The former Chelsea goalkeeper has been playing for Arsenal since leaving The Bridge in 2015 but has now been heavily linked with the sporting director position at the club. Čech’s career as one of the best goalkeepers in the world has spanned 20 years whilst playing in his native Czech Republic, France and England. Having collected 21 pieces of silverware over that period, and with the Europa League looming in what will be his final game before retirement he will be looking to make it 22 trophies against his former team.
The news of Čech’s potential appointment comes at a time of teams of similar stature, like Manchester United, looking to bringing a Sporting Director into the club to be a middle man between the manager and CEO. Many are wondering what Čech’s role will involve as Chelsea have been hit by a two-window transfer embargo by FIFA for breaking rules over the signing of foreign under-18 players.
What is the role of a Sporting Director?
Traditionally in English football, the manager will assume the role of leading, training and picking the team. On top of that, they would also oversee the footballing side of the club, however, in countries like Germany, these roles and responsibilities are shared between the manager and a Sporting Director. The Sporting Director’s job entails them with the transfer policy of the club and ins and outs over the course of the season. The Sporting Director is more powerful in the club’s hierarchy than the manager but both report to the Chairman of the club.
The vast majority of Sporting Directors hired by professional clubs in the Bundesliga have previous experience in that competition. Examples of this include Simon Rolfes at Bayer Leverkusen, who won the Bundesliga & the German Cup with Werder Bremen as well as Michael Zorc at Borussia Dortmund, who won 3 Bundesliga titles over 17 seasons at the club. In comparison to Germany, out of the 12 teams in the Premier League that currently hire a Sporting Director (Director of Football) only 5 of these individuals have previous playing experience for professional teams. No team in the Premier League currently has a Sporting Director who has Premier League playing experience which could mean Chelsea could be the 1stteam to do this which the addition of Petr Čech.
What will Petr Čech’s role within the club be?
Čech will head Chelsea’s football operations and work with their manager, currently, Maurizio Sarri, to hold on to players such as Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté as well as plan for next season’s potential arrivals & departures and retaining players with expiring contracts- including Hazard if he stays, Callum Hudson-Odoi & Willian. Čech will also be responsible for the philosophy in place at the club from the youth to the first team. Chelsea’s philosophical approach has been far away from that of many English clubs who rely on youth team players to be promoted as the club had 41 registered players out on loan which has been criticised by pundits and fans due to speculation of talent hoarding.
With the army of players returning from loan spells, Čech will be tasked with cutting the fat off of Chelsea’s squad. With a number of potential 1stteam players returning like Christian Pulisic and Kurt Zouma, the club will have to balance these arrivals with departures. This duty will fall to Čech who, working with the manager, must look at shaping Chelsea into a title challenging side and build on the 3rdplace finish from the previous season.