Chelsea news: Frank Lampard considered to replace Michael Emenalo as technical director

We had been on a promise since March when I joined other journalists in putting him through the media module of his UEFA coaching pro licence but, since the summer, the date had been pushed back further and further.

But when the club’s media officer suggested that it was the real reason for his departure, the booming Nigerian guffaw could be heard clearly down the line.

The news which put that frustrating procrastination finally into context may have come as a shock but the good natured background to his departure was entirely genuine – Emenalo sounded properly relieved that all was sorted and he would finally be spending more time with his three boys aged 12, 11 and nine.

“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,” he told Chelsea TV.

“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 and I am very grateful that the club has given me ample time to reflect on that decision.”

That did not stop the first of the conspiracy theories from bursting up from the embers of what has already been a fiery few months at Chelsea.

Perhaps he is off to fulfil a similar role in Monaco. However, while Chelsea are unlikely to exercise any sort of restraint on Emenalo’s future employment, the 52-year-old is adamant that at present he has no job offers on the table.

Roman Abramovich is understood to have fought hard to keep a man who first joined the club in 2007 as assistant first team and rose through the system to become technical director in 2011. He is one of the few men the Russian oligarch has trusted in recent years.

In the short term, his right-hand woman Marina Granovskaia will take over his immediate duties but Chelsea are believed to be looking at a more direct replacement in due course, with Frank Lampard already being mooted a successor.

Sources at the club were yesterday questioning the former England star’s credentials for the role but there is a recognition that something is required to ease relations between manager and the owner.

Abramovich was at the club’s training ground in person at the beginning of last week and chatted openly with Antonio Conte. But he is often away for lengthy periods attending to his other businesses and generally become more distant rather than closer during periods of real turmoil at the club.

For the time being, Chelsea’s win over Manchester United seems to have dispersed any feelings of imminent gloom around Stamford Bridge but should a new transfer window open without even a full-time technical director in place, things could become strained once again.

Conte made little effort at the start of the season to hide his frustration at the club’s failure to recruit at the level required, and while Emenalo’s departure is understood to be in no way directly linked to that, his absence is hardly likely to help the situation.

He has remained an enigmatic but influential figure at the club and perhaps now it will be clearer if the dramatic managerial turnarounds and the near-constant sense that the organisation was in crisis-management was helped or hindered by his presence among the machinery of the club.

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