Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea should be a triumphant one. Inheriting a team that, player for player, is far superior to any other in the Premier League, and with some awe-inspiring young talent, “The Special One” seems destined for great things again.
Frank Arnesen, who clashed with Mourinho in the summer of 2007 and hastened the manager’s departure in his first Chelsea stint, has long left the club and was recently dismissed by Hamburg. But Mourinho will find a new force to be reckoned with at Chelsea in the form of Technical Director Michael Emenalo.
Emenalo is best described by one Chelsea insider as an “operator” who has worked well as proxy for owner Roman Abramovich, playing a pivotal role in the sacking of Ray Wilkins, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo. The Times reported last week that Emenalo offered his resignation in advance of Mourinho’s appointment but it was rejected.
Despite the heavy criticism, Emenalo – the one-time Nigerian World Cup defender, American college soccer player and MLS standout – has been successful in refreshing the club. The signings under Emenalo’s watch as Technical Director have, by and large, been outstanding and the Chelsea Academy is producing more high-end players than arguably it has since the 1960s.
Mourinho likes to have the final say on transfers and squad matters, however he has shown on the continent he can work with figures close to ownership who ultimately determine whether transfers go through or not.
Ultimately, Mourinho must be comfortable with the role and influence Emenalo has in order to return to Stamford Bridge but the relationship between the two will be worth keeping an eye on.