Michael Emenalo: Saint or Snake?
I`ve just finished a piece about Michael Emenalo`s (ME for short) departure but my head is still spinning.
While, for the sake of journalistic focus, it was important to keep the story of a key Chelsea director`s resignation tight, the ramifications are potentially endless.
Everything that happens going forward can now be viewed through two lenses: what happened in the decade Emenalo was there, and what happened next.
When a key player (Costa) revolted the season before last, the technical director didn't exactly seem to work his behind off to help patch things up.
Thus were the players permitted to ride roughshod over the former manager - and Emenalo almost seemed to dance on his grave with his (in)famous "palpable discord" speech.
In the case of the present manager, matters of and around Costa have threatened to do the same: the very latest word on Mr Abramovich`s feelings toward Conte was that the owner was "furious" at how The Don had treated the wayward striker to the point that the manager was not long for SW6.
Well, let`s see if that`s true and Emenalo was indeed tired of protecting Conte - or if the latter was in fact an Emenalo-massaged and -leaked 'truth`.
Then there`s David Luiz.
With ME still there, pundits called Conte`s move to elbow Luiz from Saturday`s squad v United "brave". They lined up to predict trouble for The Don with such a popular player in the dressing room upset a potential powder keg.
The usually sensible Gary Neville went as far as to predict that every time Chelsea let in a goal without Luiz on the field, the camera would cut to the Brazilian on the bench/in the stands.
I don't think so - by which I mean that Luiz has been the main reason for Chelsea`s leakiness at the back this year; going forward, there may not be as copious an incidence of CFC shipping goals as the former Man United and England full-back thinks.
It`s important that The Don is clearly a far better PR man than the former one (though it doesn't take much to be better than someone who`s one single PR ploy is to screech, "WAAAAAAAAA!!!" from his pram while throwing bricks): his high praise for the excellent young Christensen after the game on Saturday was accurate, yes, but also played right into the youth-loving attitudes of the owner.
In the end, however, no manager who 'loses` the dressing room ever gets to stay - though such 'losing` is only real and vindicated and lasting if it is matched by losing games.
The fact that Chelsea beat such a bitter and powerful rival on Saturday under The Don`s 'brave` strategy will have sent everybody - but everybody: players, board, owner, even opposing teams - to bed on Saturday with a powerful respect for the Chelsea manager, irrespective of prejudice.
People like the former one know the truth about Michael Emenalo, I guess. Snake or saint? Or something in between? The intriguing thing is that we`ll clearly know soon enough.