Former Chelsea youth chief Michael Emenalo reveals one ex-manager tried to SHUT DOWN their academy because it was a ‘waste of time and money’ (so who was the mystery boss who lacked faith in the kids?!)
- A number of Chelsea’s academy graduates have now broken into the first team
- Michael Emenalo has revealed that one boss wanted to shut the academy down
- The manager in question claimed it was too expensive and time consuming
- The idea was scrapped, with Roman Abramovich keen to promote youngsters
- Emenalo worked under managers including Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte
Former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has revealed that one of the club’s ex-managers urged Roman Abramovich to scrap the club’s academy.
Emenalo, who spent a decade in various roles at Stamford Bridge before leaving in 2017, took responsibility for developing the club’s young players under bosses including Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas and Antonio Conte.
The manager in question claimed that Chelsea’s academy was too expensive to run and that it should only be used to ‘make some money here and there’.
Michael Emenalo (left) chats with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea’s Cobham base in November, 2015
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham (L-R) are now all in the first team
However, with the help of Abramovich, who has always wanted the club to produce its own first-team players, the ex-Nigeria international ensured that the manager’s plans were ignored.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Emenalo, who also worked at the club during the reigns of Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo, said: ‘I defended the academy when there was pressure and doubt and pessimism.
‘There was a time when there was a clamour to do more and a manager came in to make a presentation to say the academy was not necessary. The argument was it takes too long, we don’t have time, we should use it to make some money here and there, and that the owner should stop pumping money into it because it seemed like a waste.
Emenalo worked with Antonio Conte and a number of other bosses during his time at the club
Andre Villas-Boas (left) and Carlo Ancelotti (right) were also in charge during Emenalo’s time
‘But that wasn’t my idea and I had to fight against it. This is where I am very, very proud of the owner Roman Abramovich because of the trust he had in me and the willingness to listen to me and give the academy time. He would not abandon it. He believed in it and in me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.’
Despite Emenalo leaving Chelsea two years ago, his faith in the club’s academy has finally started paying dividends this season.
Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have all come through the ranks to establish themselves as regular starters under Frank Lampard, who was in part appointed because of his willingness to use young players.
The trio have all been called up to the senior England squad for upcoming games against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James, who have also featured under Lampard, are part of the Under 21 squad.
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