Jose Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea coach today after leading the team he won the league title with last season to just one point above the relegation zone after 16 games this season – the club’s worst start in 37 years. The last time they had such a start in 1978 they were relegated.
While the decision to pull the trigger on Mourinho was made by Chelsea owner Roman Abromovich, former Nigerian international left-back and the club’s technical director Michael Emenalo, is the owner’s “eyes and ears” on technical matters. Emenalo has come to earn the trust of the owner since he was hired by then coach Avram Grant as head scout.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper said this yesterday about the former Enugu Rangers player, calling him one of “the key figures at Chelsea who will decide José Mourinho’s fate”:
“A former Nigeria international who played at the 1994 World Cup and once had a brief spell at Notts County, Emenalo was brought to Chelsea by the former manager, Avram Grant, in 2007. He was promoted from his position of head opposition scout to assistant first-team coach in 2010, under the then manager Carlo Ancelotti, after the departure of Ray Wilkins, before he was given the role of technical director in the summer of 2011. He has overseen the club’s recruitment strategy at academy and first-team levels. Has a very close working relationship with Abramovich.”
Emenalo must have advised Abramovich that Mourinho had to go because he had lost the dressing room. The Nigerian explained to the club’s TV station this evening that Mourinho had to go because of the “palpable discord with the players”. As a result, the club felt “it was time to act”.
Watch the interview:
It appears Emenalo loaded the gun, while Abramovich gave the instruction to chairman Bruce Buck, and director, Eugene Tenenbaum, who pulled the trigger at 2pm today after Mourinho had handled the morning’s training and had finished his lunch at the club’s Christmas party.
Once the deed was done, it was left to Emenalo to explain the decision to Chelsea fans.