Conte claims Emenalo’s Chelsea departure made his job more difficult
Antonio Conte has admitted that Michael Emenalo quitting as Chelsea’s technical director made his job at the club much more difficult, reports The Telegraph of London.
With Conte expected to leave as head coach soon after the last game of the campaign, next Saturday’s FA Cup Final against Manchester United, the Italian conceded that Emenalo going was a “big loss” to him.
Emenalo resigned last November and subsequently took up a similar role at French club Monaco with sources suggesting that he had grown tired of the constant chopping and changing of managers at Chelsea and the tensions involved.
The Nigerian had recommended that Conte was hired, after the sacking of Jose Mourinho, and was a supporter of the former Juventus coach. He also acted as a go-between in what became a strained relationship between Conte and Marina Granovskaia, the Chelsea director, who runs the club on behalf of Roman Abramovich.
At the time it was claimed by some that Emenalo’s departure represented a victory for Conte in a power struggle at Chelsea but, given he was the coach’s biggest supporter, that was far from the case.
Ahead of Chelsea’s final Premier League match of the season, away to Newcastle United, where victory was unlikely to be enough to secure a top-four finish, Conte was asked directly about the impact of Emenalo’s departure last autumn.
“To lose Michael, it was a big loss for us,” Conte said. “Yes. I think, I think so. Also because, Michael did a great job for this club for many years. Last season he helped me a lot during the season. This season, until he left, he helped me a lot. For me, for sure, it was a big loss.”
Chelsea intend to replace Emenalo this summer by recruiting another technical director and Conte added: “But this is not my decision. As you know very well, my task is to work very hard. This is not my decision. This is the decision for others.”
Conte has one more year left on his contract at Chelsea and has been careful not to criticize the club, or speak too much about his future, with the possibility that any potential pay-off might be affected. It is understood that Chelsea would like to reach an agreement so that his departure, if it happens, is announced as being by mutual consent.
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