Most times, Chelsea's football director Michael Emenalo is only seen in the background; either behind the bench at Chelsea's home games or working behind the scenes to pull the strings and make the calls. This week though, Emenalo has been on a bit of relative media blitz, perhaps with the intention of appeasing the public's and the media's opinions on José Mourinho and himself.
In an interview to Chelsea's official website, Emenalo talked about the need to keep sticking to the transition project initiated four years ago, as we move on from our old core to a renewed one with Mourinho at helm:
"Those who know the recent history of this club know that we went through a stage about four years ago where we were a very old team and there were aspects of it that needed an important transition."
"One of those was the age of the squad and a second one was it was a team with a great powerhouse but lacking in creativity. We have over the last four years tried to deal with those two aspects and reduce the age of our squad and we have also added incredible creativity. As a result we have also lost some senior players because of their age but also because we wanted to move to a different direction in terms of the way we play."
"What has happened in those instances is that you lose some continuity, you lose a little leadership and inevitably lose some of the personality which comes with age. People need to understand that we have to build that up in newer players. People may say Chelsea need leaders, they need personality but we have a very new group and a very young group of players."
"They are not lacking in personality, they are just growing and we feel that the results that they are going through at the moment is an opportunity for them to come through as leaders. We feel that we have the right manager to make that happen, a manager who has delivered so much."
"As a club we have enjoyed so much success over the past 12 years that we can afford to look at the totality of what is happening. We can say that the last four years we have gone through so much in terms of rebuilding and what does this mean, is it having an effect on the club despite the fact we were very dominant last season?"
"Of course we are concerned that the results haven't been good but we want to stick together. We have a stable environment at the club which we think will allow us to continue to get better. Supporting the manager is the right thing to do."
Many believe that Chelsea have been lacking in leadership figures ever since players such as Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard left the club to move on with their careers. Emenalo argues that the current squad still have some leaders, although each one has its own type of leadership:
"We have those [leaders] in the team. You have different types of leaders and you have different personalities and we hear Nemanja Matic now speaking up about Chelsea and his national team, and he is going to be a natural leader. You have someone like Cesar Azpilicueta, he is a natural leader."
"Eden Hazard leads by the level of his incredible natural talent and you have more coming. Gary Cahill is an England vice-captain so there are leaders in there but they need to grow, they need to develop their own personality and dominance."
"You have to understand that these players all came in with other players so dominant among the squad, like Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech."
"Thibaut Courtois, who is only 23, will definitely be another Petr Cech because he is intelligent and confident and these guys will come through and we have to give them time for that to happen."
With pressure on Mourinho mounting in public, many Chelsea players took the chance to stand in public and give the manager their public backing. Emenalo blames the current 'fast-food' culture as one of the reasons for the impatience emanating from people outside the club -- though it's not like Chelsea haven't acted swiftly before -- and praises the players for their attitude:
"One of the aspects of the modern game is that there is a real impatience now. We are in an age of fast technology, everybody can voice an opinion, and people have a fast-food mentality and want fast-food results. Unfortunately it doesn't always work like that and you have to look at what is happening to English football in particular. The TV money means a lot of clubs now have the resources to buy so you are not always going to be able to buy yourself out of trouble."
"I am always impressed by the mentality of the players we have because there is a recognition that they are the same team that clearly were the best team in England last season. They understand there must be a reason why things are not going well and I try to articulate that by saying it is the influence of negative momentum, where you start badly and you keep having problems."
"But we believe we are starting to stabilise now and once we start going upwards there will be a positive momentum. That's the way to look at it -- we started badly, we suffered a negative momentum and given the level of quality we have in the squad and given the reputation of our manager and the club, everybody thought these results would not last and it is a shock to the system that they have lasted more than we anticipated, but we are working very hard to get back to where we were. I think we are good enough and we are confident we can."
Ramires signed a new four-year deal last month, which will see the player staying at the club until his early 30s if he doesn't leave in the meantime. According to Emenalo, this is part of the long-term plan initiated by the club as the team looks to keep and grow talented players. He also uses the opportunity to back Eden Hazard to learn how to deal with pressure when he gets out of his bad spell:
"As part of the policy from four years ago, this is a long-term plan and Eden Hazard came at the age of 21, Oscar came at 20, Ramires came at a young age -- 23 -- and they are growing now and understand what it means to play at Chelsea Football Club."
"Eden has never really been under pressure before in his career but he will get past this and he will become a Chelsea player who knows how to deal with pressure, knowing that the club has to win and it has to win playing well. It is a deliberate policy to sign on long contracts these players who are going to help us grow."
Unlike the rest of baying masses, Chelsea fans have been heard loud and clear in Stamford Bridge and in away matches demonstrating their support for José Mourinho, although some have also revealed their discontentment with the lack of movement in the market by club in the last transfer window. Emenalo believes sticking to Mourinho is the right way forward, and explains further why Chelsea haven't made big transfer moves this season:
"It is good to hear that a lot of fans appreciate this and that it is the way to go."
"When you look at football now, when you go in for a new player you have about 12 teams who can potentially afford that player as well, whereas a few years ago it would have been maybe three clubs and one of those was us. Now you have six teams in England who can potentially compete with you, and others outside England who can potentially do the same."
"We anticipated this, along with the Financial Fair Play obligations, and started planning on how to sustain a team for a long time."
"Everything that we have said indicates we are very confident in the squad we have. Last season we had six players in the Premier League team of the year and among those not making it were Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Cesc Fabregas and Willian. When you have that many good players, you certainly have to believe you can't go to the market every transfer window to try to solve all your problems. It might actually destabilise the squad."
"The first thing we need to do is to continue to believe and have the confidence that we have enough to get the job done, but we are a big club and we are always on the lookout and if there is something interesting that can make us better, we will address it."
To finish the interview, Michael Emenalo offered his thoughts on former Chelsea manager Bobby Campbell, who passed away earlier this month:
"It is emotional for me as Bobby was one of the first people I met when I joined Chelsea and he encouraged me and even gave me recommendations on where to live so he anticipated I was going to be here for a long time."
"I had a lot of time for Bobby. In the end I gave him a role in the club to look out for potential players because he had a wealth of knowledge and key understanding of what it takes to be a big player, especially for Chelsea, and information he gave me about players was spot on."
"My last conversations with him a few weeks ago were great. He was still Bobby, very funny and straightforward and we had a wonderful laugh. It is a big loss first and foremost for his family. Personally, I considered Bobby a friend."
-Michael Emenalo; source: Chelsea FC
Both interviews made by Emenalo this week show that Emenalo -- and consequently the board -- are behind José Mourinho and the current set of players Chelsea have at their disposal. The club want to build a backbone in a fashion similar to what was done in the early 2000s, in a squad that started to take form with Claudio Ranieri and reached its peak with Mourinho Mk.I later on; but this time, with less of a managerial merry-go-round.