Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo was the official who had to go on the club’s in-house TV station to explain the decision to fire Jose Mourinho, a coach who despite dragging the club to just a point above the relegation zone, is still very popular with the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Many of the fans took exception to Emenalo referring to Mourinho as “the individual” in the interview. One Chelsea fan responded with this angry tweet: “Mourinho’s name not once mentioned by Emenalo, referred to as ‘the individual’. He’s the greatest manager in our history. You’re a nobody.”
Several English pundits are blaming the ex-Enugu Rangers defender for allegedly not strengthening the squad in the summer – like they did the previous year, when the signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were instrumental in delivering the league title last season.
Sam Cunningham wrote in the Daily Mail: “They beat Manchester United to Pedro in the summer and Asmir Begovic is a solid back-up goalkeeper, but their other signings are either not ready for the Chelsea team yet or yet to inspire: Danilo Pantic, Baba Rahman, Papy Djilobodji, Michael Hector, Marco Amelia.
They also missed out on John Stones – one of the most sought-after centre-backs in football right now – despite bidding in excess of £30million, due to Everton’s reluctance to sell. Defence has been one of the key issues this season.
He was behind the signings of Baba Rahman and Papy Djilobodji in the summer but neither have impressed.”
This doesn’t exactly add up. Where would Chelsea be today if Romelu Lukaku with his 12 goals so far, Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne were still in the squad? All three are in clubs above Chelsea in the league table – 10th, 4th and 3rd. The man who shipped them out of Stamford Bridge has now been shipped out.
Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich didn’t become a billionaire by listening to English pundits and fans. The man is clever enough to defer to superior knowledge in their areas of expertise. He has some of the best brains advising him on investments, legal matters and when it comes to football, he gets the best advice from his technical director Emenalo.
In the current circumstances, the best thing to do was to fire Mourinho. Former Chelsea player Chris Sutton said this morning on the BBC’s “Football Focus” that “he’d clearly lost the plot”.
League title aside, it wasn’t such a good idea to bring Mourinho back and give him a long contract, considering his history of not sustaining success in one place for beyond two years. That wasn’t on the advice of Emenalo. Director Marina Granovskaia was instrumental in bringing back Mourinho in 2013, six years after he was sacked in similar circumstances during his third season at Chelsea.
It is very likely that, despite the simmering fury of the fans and the negative commentary in the English media, Mourinho’s sacking has strengthened Emenalo’s position at the club. There were rumours that Mourinho wanted Emenalo out. But as BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce said this afternoon it was Mourinho who “crossed the Bridge of No Return and had to go”.