By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Chelsea director Michael Emenalo has revealed that Jose Mourinho was sacked because he had lost the dressing room and Roman Abramovich felt the club was in “trouble”.
In a remarkably frank assessment of why Chelsea fired the Portugese just seven months after steering the club to the Premier League title, Emenalo said there was “a palpable discord between manager and players”.
Mourinho was dismissed in a 10-minute meeting with chairman Bruce Buck and director Eugene Tenebaum at the club’s Cobham training ground at 2pm on Thursday.
It came in the wake of a series of catastrophic results culminating in Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester that left Chelsea marooned in 16th in the Premier League table, just one point above the relegation zone.
Emenalo gave an interview to the club’s in-house TV channel on Thursday to explain why the decision was taken to dispense with the services of the most popular and successful manager in Chelsea’s history for a second time.
“It was a decision taken to protect the interest of the club,” technical director Emenalo told Chelsea TV. “Whilst there is a huge sentiment for the individual, who has done so much for the club, the fact of the matter is that Chelsea Football Club is in trouble.
“The results are not good and there obviously seems to be a palpable discord between manager and players and we feel it was time to act.”
In a three-and-a-half minute interview, Emenalo did not mention Mourinho by name on a single occasion, referring to him only as ‘the individual’.
The Nigerian, who is regarded as Abramovich’s eyes and ears at the club’s training ground, gave some insight into the Russian owner’s thinking.
“The owner is forced to make what was a very tough decision for the good of the club,” said Emenalo. “Chelsea is one point above relegation; that’s not good enough. This club is in trouble and something needed to be done.”
Asked what role the underperforming players had played in the manager’s fall, Emenalo replied: “This is essentially the same group of players who won the league and League Cup last season, who did it in style and sweated tears and blood and adhered to the manager’s instructions.
“It’s very easy to make that kind of inference but it is not one that the club accepts. Obviously we know now that the players have a level of responsibility to go out and prove everybody wrong, and show a certain level of commitment to the decision made tonight.
“To try to get the club up the league table is what they have to do, what they were supposed to do and I believe that’s what they’ve been trying to do.”
Emenalo did not reveal the identity of the next manager – Guus Hiddink is set to be installed as caretaker boss for a second time – but stressed an appointment was imminent.
“Make no mistake, the club is working vigorously and actively to make sure that the situation with regards to a managerial appointment is taken care of as soon as possible.”