Jose Mourinho, Chelsea squad had 'palpable discord' - Michael Emenalo
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo insists the decision to sack with Jose Mourinho was "a very tough decision for the good of the club" and confirmed that "palpable discord" had developed between the Portuguese and his underperforming squad.
In a statement released on the club's website on Thursday, the Premier League champions revealed they had parted company with Mourinho for the second time "by mutual consent" after two days of intense board meetings led by owner Roman Abramovich.
Defeat to Leicester City on Monday left Chelsea languishing in 16th in the Premier League table, only a point above the relegation zone, with Mourinho accusing his players of betraying his work on the pitch and suggesting that they overachieved in winning the title last season.
The decision comes only five months into the new four-year contract that Mourinho signed in August, and Emenalo insists it was not one that Abramovich and his fellow board members have taken lightly.
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"That contract clearly signifies that what happened today was not a premeditated decision," Emenalo told Chelsea TV. "It was a decision taken to protect the interests of the club. Whilst there is huge sentiment for the individual who has done so much for the club, the fact of the matter remains that Chelsea Football Club is in trouble.
"The results are not good. There obviously seems to be a palpable discord between manager and players and we felt it was time to act.
"The owner has been forced to make what was a very tough decision for the good of the club. Make no mistake about it: Chelsea Football Club, one of the biggest in the world, is one point above relegation in the English Premier League. That's not good enough.
"Anybody or any fan or even those who have any affiliation to the club can understand that this club is in trouble, and something needed to be done."
Mourinho's enduring hero status at Stamford Bridge means the Chelsea players could be in for a rough reception when they face Sunderland on Saturday, but Emenalo is adamant that there is no reason to doubt the levels of commitment within the squad.
"The same people need to remember that this is essentially the same group of players who won the league and the League Cup last season," he added. "They did it in style and they did it by showing commitment, sweating tears and blood for the club when needed. They played to instruction, they adhered to everything the manager asked them to do.
"It's very easy to make that kind of inference [that players were responsible for Mourinho's sacking] but it's not one the club accepts.
"Obviously we know now that the players have a responsibility to go out and prove everybody wrong, and show a certain level of commitment to the decision that has been made tonight, and to try to get the club up the league table. That's what they have to do, that's what they were supposed to do and I believe that's what they've been trying to do."
It is widely expected that Chelsea will appoint an interim manager until the end of the season before pursuing a permanent successor to Mourinho next summer. Guus Hiddink is the favourite to return to Stamford Bridge for a second caretaker spell, but Emenalo says the club do not expect to have a new man in place in time for Saturday's match.
"You're not a big club if you don't have contingency plans for situations like this," he continued. "We're a big club that has quality coaches embedded within the club, and I think we will be OK for Saturday. We will have competent people come up and help with preparation for the game.
"And make no mistake about it: 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."