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Technical Director Michael Emenalo on Mourinho, Lukaku, and youth development at Chelsea

Jamie McDonald

International Man of Mystery Michael Emenalo - usually seen in his disguise as Chelsea's Technical Director - doesn't speak very often in public.  When he does, we pay attention.

In part 1 of his interview with Chelsea's official website, he addresses three main topics:

Jose Mourinho

Emenalo first showed up at Chelsea just as Mourinho was leaving, answering interim undertaker Avram Grant's call to come keep him company while Chelsea's collection of egos steered the club to second place finishes in the Premier League, the Champions League, and the League Cup.  Chelsea's official story is that Grant called on a "trusted face" from his time at Maccabi Tel Aviv but seeing as how Grant got the boot and Emenalo is still around six years later, perhaps there's a bit more to the story than that.  Even if the "bit more" is simply that Emenalo has a very particular set of skills that we can use.

No doubt familiar with the narrative of Mourinho vs. Technical Directors, Emenalo was rumored to have offered his resignation to grease the wheels of The Special One's resurrection.  Which document Abramovich then presumably fed to the petite giraffes and told the Director to get back to work.

"[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."


"The pre-season was outstanding. The manager was incredible, with great ideas which he started to implement with the players from day one. The players responded amazingly and it was one of the best pre-seasons I have seen here."

I think we all felt this last bit, the squad brimming with confidence and working on recreating that wonderful winning mentality that has been sorely lacking for some time.

Romelu Lukaku

Included no doubt in that "clear ideas" line above is the club's emphasis on youth.  Buying super-young, super-promising talent is the club's long-term plan, but how does that fit in again with Lukaku's second consecutive loan?

"But we are not desperate [to get Rooney] and 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."

Ok, fine.  I'm going to be incredibly patient and, incredibly, will hang onto incredible hope that we will, incredibly, give Lukaku the incredible chance at the not so incredibly distant future to let him fulfill at his incredible potential.

Also, this Eto'o fellow better bring his A game because if there was one thing we were not lacking with Torres and Ba, it was experience.

Youth Development

The club's loan policy is supposed to get addressed in part 2 of the interview, so for now Emenalo has drawn attention to the benefits of having the "in-house" development teams play several times more matches than they used to back in his day:

"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."

Right words; right thoughts.  Now let's see that right action, too.

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