Schurrle signing casts doubt over who’s making the decisions at Chelsea


Chelsea fans will be hoping the first signing of Jose Mourinho’s second spell is more successful than his maiden capture in 2004.

The less said about Mateja Kezman the better, as far as Chelsea fans are concerned. But in Andre Schürrle, they have a world-beater in the making. The 22-year-old German possesses all the qualities of a typical Mourinho forward - physical but nimble, direct but skilful and with bags of potential.

Schürrle will begin as a wide forward, competing alongside the Blues’ three musketeers - Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar - and I expect his arrival will marginalise the game-time of Victor Moses and Marko Marin at the Bridge.

However, there is another layer to Schurrle's capabilities. The Germany international has shown for Bayer Leverkusen, and indeed his national side, that he has all the qualities to lead the line as a central striker. So, somewhat significantly, he could yet serve as the Didier Drogba of Mourinho’s second spell in charge. What that could mean for Fernando Torres and Demba Ba in the long run is debatable.

But in a wider sense, the acquisition of Schürrle - who has been a long-term Blues target dating back to when Andre Villas-Boas was fleetingly at the helm - raises the question of who is actually making the big decisions at Chelsea. And whether the terms of Mourinho’s employment will prove to be palatable to the Portuguese second time around.

Mourinho’s acrimonious split with Roman Abramovich and Chelsea in 2007 was the result of Mourinho’s power being taken away by a director of football. The Portuguese was appointed as “Manager and First Team Coach” in 2004, but the arrival of Frank Arnesen from Spurs marginalised the man who arrived as a Champions League winner and the self-anointed “Special One”. 

Indeed, Mourinho stated when he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004: “I have to participate in very important club decisions and in many important club areas, and in this aspect I feel I'm a lucky person."

Does Mourinho feel so lucky second time around? Yes, he’s at a club where he’s adored by the fans, but his influence over who is signed will be second to Michael Emenalo (pictured below), who had a big say in Schürrle’s arrival and will play a key role in future signings.

Maybe it’s best for Chelsea if Emenalo hold the reins, because Mourinho signed plenty of duds during his first reign: Del Horno, Wright-Phillips and Maniche among them. Granted, the signing of Andrei Shevchenko was not Mourinho’s doing, but there was not much love in the Abramovich- Arnesen-Mourinho triangle last time. What’s to say it will work out now?

Emenalo’s role of “Technical Director” amounts to a link between owner and manager, but crucially his loyalties lay with Abramovich and not Mourinho, or any other manager for that matter. Stopping short of calling him Abramovich’s spy in the camp, Emenalo's job is to report back to the boss.

It takes a strong manager to thrive under these circumstances, and the only permanent Chelsea boss to come close to doing so was Carlo Ancelotti, who accepted Frank Arnesen’s role and was happy to keep his role a coaching one - as is customary in his native Italy - but Carlo still lost his job.

Mourinho, who cut a more mature, statesmanlike figure at his Chelsea unveiling this week, will have to live with those conditions and accept that not every signing – like Schürrle – will be his.

It can be argued that Emenalo, a former Nigeria international defender who played a handful of games for Notts County in 1994, provides a much needed buffer between the pitch and board room. But it is curious that he offered to resign last month when it because clear Mourinho was coming back, and there is a lingering feeling that anarchy is just around the corner at Chelsea. How long will the relationship last this time?

Chelsea are 3.35 to win the Premier League next season and 10.00 to win the Champions League.