Chelsea TV Exclusive: Emenalo on standing down

Following the announcement earlier today that Michael Emenalo has decided to stand down from his role as technical director, he spoke to Chelsea TV.

Below is what he said in the interview, which can also be watched here…


How difficult a decision was it for you to take?

After 10 years here, 10 wonderful, successful years, but very demanding years, it is a very tough decision to decide to step aside. It is entirely my decision and it has come about for very simple reasons. I need an opportunity to get to see my young kids grow and also to step back and reflect on the work that I have done here and the things that we have been able to accomplish together in this great club.   

So a tough decision to come to, is it something that has been weighing on your mind for some time?

It is something I have been thinking about for quite some time now and it is something I have discussed with my family and they understand the reasons and the timing for wanting to step aside. But this is not a knee-jerk reaction or decision, it has been on my mind and it has been thoroughly discussed amongst friends and colleagues that this is what I wanted to do and I am very grateful that the club has given me ample time to reflect on that decision and to be sure, which is testament to the respect and the admiration that I have always enjoyed at this club.

 Michael Emenalo celebrates the Premier League title win in the dressing room at West Brom last season

It has been an incredible 10 years and of course you leave behind some very close friends and colleagues as well…

I think professionally there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is a good time for me to step aside and let the club continue to move forward. The club is in good hands, an outstanding board of directors, a very generous owner, one of the best coaches in world football who I know from personal day-to-day interaction cares about his work and about the club, an Academy that is the best in the world bar none, a Ladies team and programme that is evolving at rapid and successful speed. There is so much to be proud of in this club but the time has come for me to also take a step aside and consider some personal growth which I think at my age and after 10 years of demanding and gruelling and all-encompassing work, is very necessary.  

Just elaborate on that sense of pride that you alluded to there, because it’s a very different club from the one you joined 10 years ago…

Yes, it’s different in the sense that I came in on the back of what seemed like a crisis at the time, having lost one of the iconic and charming managers this club has ever had, and just coming in to try to be helpful in a different position. Seeing what things looked like then, the club has just evolved so positively in so many different facets. It’s no surprise to me, probably to some on the outside, but no surprise to me we kept churning out victories after victories.

You’ve had six years in this specific role Michael, tell us about some of the proudest achievements in that time…

The first thing I would like to say is that I have been very, very lucky. When you work in this organisation you are lucky because you are surrounded by very talented and very experienced and intelligent people. I have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of that working from the top down. I have had incredible support staff. I’ve had a set-up in so many different areas that can only bring success. At the Academy we have an Academy manager who is absolutely outstanding. We have a scouting network that was revolutionary, people are copying some of the things that we did.

We have managed to improve our opposition scouting department and the recruitment of players. There are so many things outside of the technical area which I am aware of that have also grown and improved exponentially.

But the ultimate ambition and ultimate goal of this football club has always been to win, and the totality of the wins that we’ve had – whether it’s the Champions League, or the Premier League, or the Europa League, the Ladies’ Premier League and cups, the Academy, those young men winning back-to-back youth Champions Leagues – they have all been achievements that I am very proud of, and I’m proud of it because it’s not just an achievement by me or that has just my influence, it’s an achievement that is the totality of everybody’s work.

 Michael with the FA Youth Cup and Jim Fraser (left) and Neil Bath (right) from the Academy

You are very proud of the loans programme we have here. We saw Andreas Christensen come into the game against Manchester United yesterday and perform so well. Is he a good example there is a clear pathway for young players to make their way into the first team?

Absolutely. Andreas, unbeknown to him, gave me a wonderful parting gift yesterday because his performance is indicative of what development is all about. Development equals humility, hard work and timing and Andreas has done all three.

He’s shown great humility to go on loan and work very hard while he was there and gain the experience which is needed, and the timing is right for him now to step in and show what he’s learnt during those periods of development.

As you look forward, what would you like your legacy to be from your time at Chelsea?

I think I would like to be seen as someone who was very dedicated to the job, who loved the people he worked with and who loved the club. I was speaking to a friend earlier and alluding to the fact that to support Chelsea Football Club, work for this club and love this club, to share and revel in the dramas, especially the successful ones of winning trophies, is very addictive.

My family and I have enjoyed that addiction, and I don’t know if that passes as a legacy but I would like to be remembered as someone who absolutely enjoyed supporting and working for Chelsea Football Club.

Now you get to watch as a fan…

Yes, wonderful. It will be different, I hope everything that comes out is positive because I know how difficult it is as a fan to be helpless on the outside and just wanting your team to do so well. Hopefully the experiences I have from the inside will help me to keep my nerves, but these are exciting times and I look forward to enjoying being a supporter.