As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Now the loan system? Why Chelsea dismanting Emenalo's legacy only further contributes to their downfall

COMMENT: Now it's the loan system? Is there going to be anything left? Any type of legacy from the Abramovich era? This really is a scorched earth policy at Chelsea...

So the latest component in the club structure to be dismantled by the Boehly board will be Chelsea's loan system. Setup and driven by former technical director Michael Emenalo a good 12 years ago, it has had it's critics, sure. But those critics came from the outside.

Inside the club, the opinion was very different. Emenalo's idea was the stuff of genius. A way to circumnavigate not only the Financial Fair Play laws, but also to beat the UK's work permit system. Club relationships were struck and maintained. Informal partnerships were established. And it was a system that drew envy at home and across Europe.

Emenalo established the idea of a loan manager. Now an essential member of any backroom staff. But it was Chelsea which first took the position seriously. Paulo Ferreira. Tore Andre Flo. Claude Makelele. They all filled the position over the years. A high-profile name for young players to lean on while away from the club. For better or worse, part of Emenalo's thinking being advice from a Ferreira would carry greater weight than your typical staff member assigned to such a job. Again, it was innovative, cutting-edge and led the way for other clubs to emulate.

Chelsea effectively took on Italy's biggest clubs at the same game. The now disbanded system inside Calcio allowed the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Inter to sign a squad of players around the country on co-ownership contracts. It was the Emenalo system on steroids and gave Serie A clubs a distinct advantage in housing huge numbers of young talent without the concern of Financial Fair Play.

Yes Chelsea had it's problems. But for every Matej Delac, there was a Thibaut Courtois or Andreas Christensen. It was a system, for Chelsea, that worked. Even in today's team, Mason Mount, Trevoh Chalobah and Armando Broja all benefited from following the same pathway as those before them like Dominic Solanke and Lewis Baker. It has been a critical part of a Chelsea player's development road. But it's now being pulled apart.

A new approach is being established, apparently. Co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart letting it be known that the system that has served the club so well needed changing.

Decisions on players will be sharper. Quicker. Only those with genuine first team prospects will be sent out on-loan. And if they don't cut it, they'll be quickly moved on.

Okay, okay, every system can be improved. And the decisions on players like Baba Rahman and Tiemoue Bakayoko do make little sense. But the way this has been framed suggests Emenalo's brainchild, with the full support of then owner Roman Abramovich, was something that never worked. And the only answer is to demolish it and start again. But player development - and club success - is a little more sophisticated than what's been suggested this past week.

When this column considers Chelsea's loan approach, Nathaniel Chalobah is one name that is often front of mind. Now 28 and with West Brom, Chalobah is a league title with Chelsea. And an England international. This was all achieved after no less than six different loans. Indeed, it was his time with Maurizio Sarri at Napoli which convinced Antonio Conte to count on him for the title winning season of 2016/17. He wasn't regular. But Chalobah certainly contributed as Conte won the Premier League in his first season in England. Only months later, Chalobah was earning his England cap. Again, this was after six loans of varying degrees of success.

Would Chalobah have had that chance with the current management's new plans? No. He would've been moved on long before Conte was even appointed by Abramovich. The impact of Chalobah in that one title-winning season owed everything to Emenalo's system and how management utilised it.

As we say, things can always be built upon and improved. And Chelsea's loan system is no different. But the idea that what Emenalo put together was detrimental to the club and the players brought through the doors is just ridiculous. Chelsea had to find a way to combat the UK's work permit panels. To compete with co-ownership on the continent. And to meet the demands of UEFA's then new financial controls.

Emenalo's system did just that. A system that produced Champions League winners. Multi-million pound sales. And contributed to a golden era this club, under this ownership, look far, far away from ever emulating.

It's a legacy of the Abramovich era. A positive legacy that worked for Chelsea. But now just another component of this fallen club being hastily - and without reason - dismantled.

Video of the day:

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free