What Actually Is Petr Cech’s New Role at Chelsea?

What Actually Is Petr Cech’s New Role at Chelsea?

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Cast a glance in the direction of the Stamford
Bridge press box on match days this season and there is a decent chance you’ll spot
Petr Cech. Chelsea’s new technical and performance adviser has taken a liking to the media’s
vantage point, situated a matter of yards behind the dugouts deep in the East Stand’s
lower tier. Against Valencia in September, he could be
seen shifting uncomfortably in his seat, trying to kick every ball with Frank Lampard’s
team as their Champions League campaign began with a defeat. But when he wants a different view of proceedings,
Cech is not short of options. Sometimes he watches from the TV gantry high up in the
East Stand, on occasions the other side of the ground, alongside chief executive Marina
Granovskaia in a West Stand box. Working closely with Granovskaia is key for
Cech, whose wordy job title was explained only in rather abstract terms when his long-awaited
return to the club was announced in June. “The focus of the job will be to provide
advice on all football and performance matters throughout the club as well as embed and facilitate
strong links between our men’s and academy teams, ensuring that the various support departments
are working together effectively,” read Chelsea’s statement. What does that actually mean in practice? Cech is still feeling his way in his new role
but a core routine has already emerged in his first few months back at Cobham. The former
goalkeeper watches the first team play home and away, sitting in the directors’ box
with Chelsea executives for the latter. Working from an office at the training ground, he
also watches every development squad game and talks regularly to academy staff as well
as the scouting, analysis and loan departments. Based on those conversations, he then relays
information and technical advice to Granovskaia. Dealing with transfer targets and agents remains
the remit of Granovskaia, who maintains ultimate decision-making power over day-to-day football
operations on behalf of owner Roman Abramovich. Cech does have a seat at the table when it
comes to personnel discussions – which, due to the transfer ban, at present consist
mainly of which players are to be sold or loaned out – but his voice provides counsel
rather than final judgement. On the whole, Cech’s job is more inwardly
focused, relaying information and support to make sure the different technical departments
are aligned. His office is across the corridor from Lampard’s and the old team-mates speak
often, with Cech a daily observer of first-team training. Some of these are the same responsibilities
once held by Michael Emenalo but, as the different job title indicates, Cech is not a like-for-like
replacement. He does not have his own network of transfer contacts and does not directly
manage anyone at Cobham – his primary function is to act as the glue that binds everyone
together. Those at the club also insist Cech is not
there to act as a buffer between the manager and the board, as Emenalo sometimes did, most
notably when ‘palpable discord’ reigned under Jose Mourinho and relations with Antonio
Conte grew strained and toxic. Lampard has his own long-standing relationship with Abramovich
and gets on well with Granovskaia, talking to her most days. His recruitment was an entirely separate process
to Lampard’s appointment as manager, but the deep friendship and trust between the
two men has helped both quickly settle into their new jobs. One of Emenalo’s strengths was his ability
to build and maintain positive relationships with people at all levels of the club. Cech’s
likeable personality and his intelligence – both intellectual and emotional – made
him a natural candidate to assume some of the same responsibilities, and he was identified
as suitable for this kind of job before he ever left to play for Arsenal in summer 2015. Few players are afforded the kind of private
audience with Abramovich that Cech was granted when he voiced his desire to join Arsenal
during a meeting at the Russian’s London residence, and the fact his wish was respected
– in spite of Mourinho making clear his opposition to the move in public and private
– underlined the rare level of esteem in which he was held by the owner. Emenalo’s resignation in November 2017 took
Chelsea by surprise, and the club reflected for more than a year on how best to replace
him, or whether to replace him at all. Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti were
among the illustrious former Chelsea players linked but, once the new technical structure
was decided, Cech was the standout choice. Abramovich and Granovskaia preferred to wait
until he retired as a player than consider other candidates who might be available sooner. Abramovich has always been keen for the legends
of Chelsea’s greatest era to be kept in the fold and preferably on the payroll, provided
suitable jobs can be found. The scenario he has always wanted to avoid is best summed
up by the post-retirement path of Patrick Vieira, an undeniable Arsenal legend who became
more associated with Manchester City after being denied a coaching pathway in north London
by Arsene Wenger. The decision to appoint Lampard as head coach
last summer represented the logical culmination of this Abramovich directive, but Cech’s
return in a broader strategic role is arguably an even stronger signal of the owner’s desire
to maintain the legacy of past achievements at Cobham for the long term. As a player, Cech was often the man prepared
to front up to the media after difficult results, talking with candour and maturity about what
had gone wrong. While generally mild-mannered, he was always prepared to hold team-mates
accountable for mistakes in the dressing room during heated post-match inquests – most
notably after a 2-1 loss against West Brom in November 2012 that left Roberto Di Matteo
on the brink of the sack. While Emenalo at times stepped forward to
inform the squad of Abramovich’s periodic dissatisfaction, it’s highly unlikely that
Cech will step on Lampard’s toes if discipline ever needs to be reinforced. But there is
no doubt that Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor is every bit as fiercely passionate
about ensuring that standards do not drop. Chelsea expect Cech will develop in his role
as he learns and grows in experience. It is not inconceivable that his responsibilities
will expand and his job title change in time, though club insiders point out that it is
far too early to talk about him as a potential future sporting or technical director – not
least because their management structure is different to that of many other elite European
clubs.

73 comments

  1. Chelsea are finished at the top level, reactionaries are jumping on guys like Tammy who are average

    it's pretty flat and if they listened to my transfer plan in 2016/17 chelsea would be title contenders still to this day, and could have avoided this transition they're in

  2. id do cech's job better than him no doubt, not sure how cech contributes footballistically to helping develop or decide which players need to be loaned

  3. by 2018/19 chelsea could have listened to my transfer plan and had a starting 11 of:

    Icardi
    Hazard Sarr

    Golovin

    Kovacic Kante

    Grimaldo Azpi
    Timori AC

    Kepa

    unreal squad and the bench would offer a lot of versatility. this football under sarri would have been insane but he offers no flexibility or progression to the extent my 433 does. a game model of mourinho suits this 11 of players, would be competing for the CL/PL every season for 2-3 years. easily PL winners

  4. Finally I see a guy talk about the huge work of him since rafa the academy not using by the manager and look how turn now we have a great future and opportunity for Chelsea

  5. by 2018/19 chelsea could have listened to my transfer plan and had a starting 11 of:

    Icardi
    Hazard Sarr

    Golovin

    Kovacic Kante

    Grimaldo Azpi
    Timori AC

    Kepa

    unreal squad and the bench would offer a lot of versatility. this football under sarri would have been insane but he offers no flexibility or progression to the extent my 433 does. a game model of mourinho suits this 11 of players, would be competing for the CL/PL every season for 2-3 years. easily PL winners

    would need around 150-170 million for sarr/golovin/icardi/grimaldo, and for diawara/cedric as bench options 200 million. would need to sell a lot but if 200 million gets you a CL/PL contending side, why bother sign up average guys like jorginho for 50 million? makes zero sense

  6. with chelsea's current staff structure, and their idea of taking it long term, i really wish arnesen-de visser duo make their way back to chelsea. a perfect combo to push for youth depth.

  7. Keeping legends at the club is something done by a lot of clubs. Currently both Xabi Alonso and Raul work for Real Madrid in some capacity for example

  8. From a Chelsea fan this is one of the most exciting periods for me, the future is looking to be brighter than the great past we have.

  9. Every time I see him in the stands I’m surprised he’s not wearing a dressed up version of his little cap which matches his suit

  10. Can you do one on Valencia CF management chaos and the unexpected sacking of their cup winning coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.

  11. When you think about it, goalkeepers spend a lot of the time just watching the game unfold in front of them. So you think they'd be pretty good an analysing the game etc.

  12. Imagine if Drogba was the head coach of the strikers department, Terry defense advisor. It would be interesting if frank hires is team mates

  13. As an Arsenal fan I think Chelsea are doing much better than expected given their circumstances. Even with a transfer ban they’re twice the team Man United are.

  14. We’ve got incredible talent on and off the pitch and we got hella talents waiting to get into the first team, I think in 3 years, Chelsea can become what Liverpool are right now if we don’t change the coach and buy a bunch of old players to block the development of guys like Tomori, Mount, Abraham and Hudson-Odoi

  15. Chelsea has planning to build 'something' bigger than everyone thought, I mean as a Football Club. Maybe that's why I have a feeling that Chelsea looks different this season. Their staff & manager, their first team, the Academy, even all of their social medias more attractive and interactive. All Chelsea's fans are more passionate and supports the club more this season.

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