Michael Emenalo: Judged Too Soon?
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve wanted Emenalo to leave the club since he was appointed as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant back in 2010, his 2nd season in charge.
Tensions arose after the club refused to extend Ray Wilkins’ contract, a strange move by the board considering he was key to Carlo transferring his tactical messages to the rest of the team. He spoke fluent Italian and learned Ancelotti’s game almost instantaneously.
Half way through a youth team game, the message was passed on to ‘Butch’ that he would have to leave the club with immediate effect. Of course, this didn’t go down well with many fans and I’m sure the players may have been disheartened by the news. It may have been coincidental, but our winter slump began as soon as Wilkins left the club.
The players spoke out. John Terry and Petr Cech had this to say (Guardian).
“Ray has left the club and everyone is sad to see him go,” said Terry. “It was an unexpected decision but we have to move on and stay calm. Ray’s been brilliant since he came in, from day one, not only as a coach but as a man as well.
“He was a great person to have around the football club, he would pick you up when you were down and, if there was a problem for any players or staff, he would be the first one to call them to make sure everything was OK and to ask if there was any way he could help. All that came alongside his knowledge and coaching ability on the football field.”
“There are things that happen in football everyday,” said Cech. “Managers come and go, and first-team coaches and players can leave suddenly. So we are all used to things like that. But it’s not an excuse. It was just that our performance wasn’t up to standard. We didn’t play well as a team.
“We gave them too much space. We were not good enough in attacking play, we were not good enough at defending as a team – not just individuals. We changed the back four, but it is everyone’s mistake. We were not compact enough. We were all over the place and that’s why they had those chances and took them.”
Of course, being the link between the manager and players, Wilkins’ exit had an effect on us, it was visible for all to see.
In came Michael Emenalo, almost universally unheard of in English football. What added to the insult was that he replaced Wilkins in the dugout, and even Carlo was firm on what Emenalo would contribute to the team.
“He won’t be involved in the training sessions.”
“I am not here to explain how I feel at this moment because it is not the right moment,” he said. ”I’m professional. I will continue to work. I want to stay focused on my team.
“The club made this decision after the decision on Ray. But nothing has changed, for me. Emenalo has been working with me before. He started when I came here last year.
“He was the opposition scout and was supporting me. He’s not been involved in the training, and won’t be, because Paul Clement (first-team coach) has been and will remain doing that. But nothing changes. It was not my decision, but he is working with me for a year and a half anyway.”
It was obvious Carlo didn’t fancy him. And neither did the fans.
The following season saw Carlo being replaced by a young Andre Villas-Boas. Emenalo, whose existence at Chelsea was being questioned by many, was then promoted to the role of Technical Director. He would work with the manager on potential ins and outs, as well as review information provided by scouts. He would then pick and choose the talents he found worth Chelsea’s time.
You have to say he’s done quite a marvellous job.
He was behind the purchases of every youth team and first team player, working with our scouts and managers to recruit the best available talent around the world. He has welcomed the appointment of Jose Mourinho, spoken about his faith in Lukaku and looks to continue to work hard on developing youth at Chelsea.
On Mourinho, Emenalo had this to say.
“[Mourinho] is a very good decision maker and a trusted component in the decision-making process due to what he has achieved here. He came in with clear ideas of what he wanted to do, which were not dissimilar from what we were already in the process of doing, and that helped.”
He had this to say about Lukaku and Chelsea’s striking options.
“We know for the future we have Romelu Lukaku and incredible hope that he will come through and lead the line. People keep forgetting that he is only 20 and looking at the short-term plan, we don’t want to put too much pressure on a young player like him.”
“So if we weren’t able to get Rooney and we had Lukaku, Ba and Torres, we felt comfortable with them but we also felt comfortable to bring Eto’o to give us a little bit of competition, because we wanted to freshen up that position. We have every confidence in Torres, Ba and Lukaku but with Eto’o we have bought experience.”
And on Youth Development.
“We are very happy we now have a system for both academy and Under-21 teams that allows the young players to play a lot of games, because the only way you develop young players is for them to play.”
“When I first came to Chelsea, the reserves had an 18-game schedule and that was not going to prepare a young player for the first team and to compete with someone like Frank Lampard who was playing 60 games, or Michael Essien who was playing 55. […] I feel convinced that if those players over a two-year period had played 35 games a season like Lewis Baker has just done, they would be much closer to the first team than they are now.”
“When the next batch of players come from the Academy or come back from loan, they are much more ready than they used to be, and we have very good young English players and young foreign players we have developed here who we feel in the near future will come to the first team and will stay.”
He seems like a man in the know, and despite making a few mistakes, the pros have definitely outweighed the cons, so my opinion on Emenalo has drastically changed in the last 3 months, he is the man to take us forward and work with Mourinho and Abramovich, who has put his trust and faith into Emenalo, to ensure a bright future at Stamford Bridge.