Earlier today (Tuesday), Sky Sports broke the news that many others had broken before — classic Sky Sports! — and announced that Petr Cech is set to be appointed Chelsea’s new Sporting Director after this season, which coincidentally will end with Chelsea facing Čech and Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29.
That position has been open since Michael Emenalo announced he was leaving Chelsea on November 6, 2017, although he had already told the club in the summer about his decision, presumably to smooth the transition for his successor. Chelsea, as it turns out, weren’t in much of a hurry to figure that out however.
But now it appears we’ve finally happened upon the right candidate. Čech will retire and come back home to help lead Chelsea through yet another post-2012 transition and maybe even figure out a long-term plan or vision that doesn’t involve panic buys, regular sackings, and last-minute gambles as a rule every transfer window.
Already showing solid diplomacy, Čech himself is playing coy on the whole thing for now. We understand, Big Pete.
Despite the news today as I had already said to everybody before , I’ll make decision about my future after the last game . Now my sole focus is to win the EL with @Arsenal .— Petr Cech (@PetrCech) May 21, 2019
But once we dispense with the formalities and also allow the immediate good vibes generated by the nostalgia of past glories dissipate, we can start dealing with what the reality of the situation may or may not actually be.
The immediate question of course is what does a “new sporting director role” at Chelsea really mean? Michael Emenalo and Marina Granovskaia seemed to be in a constant tug-of-war with regards to transfers and contracts, for better or worse, and since the former left, the latter has been filling the void all by herself, with decidedly mixed results. Perfection cannot be expected in these matters of course. No sporting director has a flawless recruitment record. Predicting the future is not easy.
It also cannot be ignored that Čech has no actual real-world experience in this role. Emenalo didn’t either when he started, in fairness, though he had been involved in some level of coaching and youth player development over in the USA. So Čech will have to learn it all on the job, including the coordination of the scouting department, which was one of Emenalo’s biggest responsibilities.
And then there is the monkey wrench of the managerial revolving door, which seems to be preparing for yet another dizzying spin. One of Emenalo’s more important roles, as it emerged after he left, was to serve as an intermediary between the two equally stubborn sides of the Chelsea operation, between Conte and the Suits, between the pitch and the board room, between the playing of football and the business of football. Čech reportedly has a very good relationship with Abramovich (and thus presumably Granovskaia & Co), which will certainly help. But whether it’s Maurizio Sarri or ol’ pal Frank Lampard on the other end, Petr will have his work cut out for him in this regard if history is any indication.
That said, many of these questions would also apply in nearly equal measure to names with more experience (Luís Campos, Monchi, Fabio Paratici, [insert your favorite]). And bringing back former
players legends to (re-)create a connection with the fans and eagerly apply the same determination they had as players to the success of the club definitely sounds great — *faintly and from a distance* “Michael Ballack!” ... who said that?
It’s a big role to be sure, but given what Čech’s done for and what he means to the club and the fans, it’s certainly a solid decision.
P.S.: The Makelele rumors are somewhat unfounded at the moment.