Michael Emenalo, originally a football player from Nigeria has become one of the most influential figures at Chelsea Football Club over the last 7 years. A lot of us do not really know a lot about Michael and the majority of us are confused about his exact role at Chelsea. Let us take a look at his journey at Chelsea so far and analyse the role he has played for the club.
The year was 2007 and Avram Grant was the manager at Chelsea. A good friend of Mr. Abramovich, he was the one who brought Michael to Chelsea as a scout. Michael had played for Maccabi Tel Aviv under Grant, and apparently Grant was so impressed by him that he was offered a coaching role at Tel Aviv once he had retired. Michael turned down that opportunity which wasn’t entirely shocking as he had practically zero experience when it came to coaching. He had volunteered as a coach for Virginia Tech University.
Michael headed to Tucson in the United States where he took up the job of Director of Player Development at the Tucson Academy where he focused on “pre-formation training”. His stint lasted for a year before he was picked up by Avram Grant, who was now the manager of Chelsea. So when he arrived at Chelsea in 2007, his coaching experience included coaching a team of 11-year-old girls at the Tucson Academy, which is pretty under-qualified in my opinion.
While Grant was sacked by Roman for his dismal performance, Michael stayed on in the role of a scout. This is where he learnt about scouting, finding the right players and getting young talent in the team. As Ancelotti became the manager of Chelsea, Michael was given the responsibility for scouting the opponents and as such was fairly involved in the weekly performance of the team.
Ray Wilkins, the then assistant manager of the first team of Chelsea was sacked in 2010, and while the manager and the players were sad to see him go, the management of Chelsea decided that Michael was the right person for filling his shoes. Even Carlo Ancelotti was not very fond of Michael, which makes us think that the decision to appoint him as the assistant manager was pushed by the management. This is what Carlo had to say about the appointment of Michael,
“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; 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.”
As soon as Andre Villas Boas arrived in 2011, Michael Emenalo was promoted to the role of Technical Director, and just like that, out of the blue he became one of the most important people at Chelsea. Michael is supposed to have been a major driving force behind the ill-fated arrival of Fernando Torres as well as the appointment of Rafael Benitez and that is why he is supposedly hated by many Chelsea fans around the world.
In the next article of this series, we will look at his career from 2011 to 2014.
Edited By: Ojas Tripathi