Chelsea’s new hire: Re-affirming football’s transformation

Chelsea’s earnest pursuit towards hiring a new technical director showed once again how the control of the game has shifted from the field to boardrooms. They aren’t the only ones building a strong executive structure in the board, and it’s sign enough where football is headed.
Art by Revant Dasgupta

For good and bad, Chelsea Football Club always attracts worldwide media attention with their dealings on and off the field. Whilst we all typically focus on dealings on the field, I’d like to touch on the latest and hottest topic off the field, the apparent hiring of a Technical Director within the club. The West London club in recent years has built a reputation for its ruthless hiring process, somewhat likened to a conveyor belt where management hirees come and go. It’s no secret that the hierarchy within Chelsea is a vigorous one, where the power is found no further than the directors of the club. Now, following a recent managerial appointment with Maurizio Sarri, their focus switches to the hiring of a Technical Director, the next figure in turn to fill an influential role in SW6.

First and foremost, what is a technical director responsible for? I’m glad you asked. A technical director within a football club, commonly known also as a director of football, is someone who handles the overseeing of signing players, field-related concepts away from day-to-day coaching, and conclusively monitors all football related activities happenings. Often the common link between the business and sport side of their respected football club, the technical director is a senior position within the club, and someone who must have a profound knowledge within the game, in order to assist with the smooth every day running of the company.

This is a team who are currently without either a technical director or director of football at the club, since their previous occupant Michael Emenalo left in November of last year, eventually joining Monaco in Ligue 1. As I am sure you’ve heard or seen, a certain Marina Granovskaia has taken on the key responsibilities of this role as the search beckons for a direct replacement for Mr. Emenalo. Commonly mentioned behind the scenes and seen holding the Chelsea shirt next to the club’s new signing at the time, Marina is the club’s current director. Her biggest feat so far? Brokering the deal with Nike, a reported $900M deal over a 15-year span, working out to around $60m a year, which inevitably has doubled the club’s total earnings if they had remained with Adidas. However, no real monumental moves on the field have materialized under Granovskaia’s leadership as of yet.

While Marina showed tremendous aptitude for the operations side of things, there was less clarity on her ability to become a smooth bridge between the club’s corporate and football side. I am not so sure, and I am almost certain neither are the Chelsea faithful, who have questioned the majority of our transfer business since Michael Emenalo left, Granovskaia signed Tiémoué Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater just to refresh your memory.

So, the question is, do Chelsea need a new technical director? I believe so. I go back to my fundamental point, someone who has a profound knowledge within the game of football, not in the boardroom. There is a need for someone to come in, take responsibility and steady the somewhat sinking ship carrying the club’s reputable transfer hierarchy, which has seen them bring in superstars such as Eden Hazard, and Diego Costa in recent times, just to name a couple. This may also serve as a swift comparison between Emenalo and Granovskaia’s transfer dealings. Michael Emenalo, who has a few mentions not just in this article, but also the face on the first link that pops up when you type in those two words accompanied with Chelsea on Google, needs replacing. The requirement of a replacement is needing someone of whom has played the game, has the trust of the owner and supporters, and can efficiently negotiate to bring only the best players to Stamford Bridge.

Now, who are the potential candidates mentioned so far? Former blues Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti have popped up regularly, also the FA’s director Dan Ashworth and Roma’s Monchi have graced the lips of fans around the world. My nomination? Michael Ballack. The former German captain, with 105 appearances and 7 trophies for Chelsea between 2006-2010, knows the game better than most, and is often found at Stamford Bridge supporting the team, if not, he is most certainly on Twitter predicting the score and showing his support for the team. I believe the effects of hiring a technical director, specifically Michael Ballack, will benefit the club in such ways as improved transfer market efficiency; specifically targeting quality over quantity, a smoother operation within the club in terms of on and off the field endeavors, and arguably most importantly, a closer affiliation with the people who make the club what it is, the fans.

Dan McCarthy

Originally from London, England now living in Los Angeles California. Former academy football player and recent graduate in Business Administration, avid sports fan, but totally in love with the beautiful game.