Former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has revealed that one of the club’s previous managers urged Roman Abramovich to remove the club’s academy.
Emenalo, who spent a decade in several roles at Stamford Bridge before leaving in 2017, took responsibility for developing the club’s young players under managers including Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas and Conte.
The said manager claimed that the blues’ academy was too expensive to run and that it should only be used to ‘make some money here and there’.
However, with the help of Roman Abramovich, who has always wanted the club to produce its own first-team players, the ex-Nigeria international ensured that the plans of the manager were ignored.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Emenalo, who also worked at the Chelsea during the time 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.
‘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 Michael Emenalo leaving the club two years ago, his faith in the academy has finally started paying dividends this campaign.
Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have all come through the ranks to establish themselves as regular players under Frank Lampard, who was in part signed because of his willingness to use young players.
The trio have all been called up to the senior England squad for upcoming matches against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are part of the Under 21 squad.