Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Everton at the weekend has put Maurizio Sarri’s head back on the chopping block. And it will be Marina Granovskaia, the club’s Director of Football, who decides whether he stays or goes.
Granovskaia, now 44, has become the most powerful female in world football as right hand woman to the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
With the oligarch away from Stamford Bridge – and the UK – because of his ongoing visa issues, it is Granovskaia, who has both Russian and Canadian nationality, who calls the shots.
As a member of both the Chelsea plc and football club boards, with special responsibility for transfers, contracts, loans and the academy, she is the real power behind the throne.
Considering her role and responsibilities, she is almost anonymous. A face, frequently in the background, not a voice. At least in public. But insiders say it is very different behind the scenes, where it matters.
No key decisions take place at the club without the consent of the foreign languages graduate from Moscow State University.
Now she has to make the decision that will decide Chelsea’s fate – to stick with Sarri ball or to kick it into touch.