Sam Wallace: Emenalo may soon discover that some opportunities really are just too good to be true

For Ancelotti, the downside is obvious. It makes him look like he's being undermined. He did not even get the final say on the sacking of his assistant

What makes a great manager and assistant partnership? Trust (Shankly and Paisley) has to be one quality. Complementing personalities (Clough and Taylor) are another good combination. Even a bit of tension (Ferguson and Kidd) can work. Then there is the importance of loyalty (Busby and Murphy).

Something tells me that when it comes to great managerial/assistant combinations of modern football we might just have to create a whole new sub-section for Carlo Ancelotti and Michael Emenalo.

One struggles to recall a partnership that has begun in less auspicious circumstances than that of the Italian and his new Nigerian sidekick. It is not that their current record stands at played one, lost one, because plenty of great managerial dynasties have started badly. Rather it was the way that Ancelotti introduced his new No 2.

"He won't be involved in the training sessions," was – all things considered – not the most encouraging of starts when Ancelotti explained Emenalo's new role on Friday. That was run a close second by Ancelotti clarifying, "It's not a new job, it's the same job he did in the past." Which, as anyone who has ever got a promotion will tell you, is not what you want to hear from the boss.

Nevertheless, Emenalo was alongside Ancelotti on the bench come Saturday's defeat to Birmingham City and, whatever the Chelsea manager said about Emenalo continuing to do his old job, it will be difficult to scout Chelsea's forthcoming opposition when he is spending match days watching Chelsea.

Three league defeats in the last four games have created the gloom over Chelsea. Yet they are still top of the league and await the return of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Michael Essien from injury and suspension. What catches the eye is the frankly weird position around Emenalo's appointment and the pointedly lukewarm reception that Ancelotti has given him.

The cursory dismissal of Ray Wilkins was the moment that made everyone wince – a bit like seeing a favourite uncle come a cropper through no fault of his own. But foisting Emenalo on Ancelotti did not make sense for either of the two men involved.

For Ancelotti, the downside is obvious. It makes him look like he is being undermined. He did not even get the final say on the sacking of his assistant. Compare that to Fabio Capello, who brought four Italian staff with him when he came to England.

For Emenalo it sounds like one of the greatest opportunities a football man could hope for but when it comes to Chelsea and the whims of that club you have to be careful what you wish for.

The last man to be parachuted in from nowhere by Chelsea was Avram Grant, who lasted eight months as manager and was one penalty-kick from winning the Champions League final, as he never tires of reminding us. He parlayed that into a job at Portsmouth and the less said about how he is faring at West Ham the better.

Grant will always be remembered as the man who was given one of the most extraordinary leg-ups in the history of English football. He has never been able to shake that off and the way things are working out at West Ham suggest that if it was not for Chelsea plucking him from obscurity in Israel he would never have made it this far.

For Emenalo, by all accounts a decent man, is this really what he wants for the next step in his career? Installed as the assistant to a manager who has just seen his former assistant sacked by the powers-that-be? Football has often rewarded ambitious men but some lucky breaks do not turn out to be as lucky as they first seem.

Ancelotti and Emenalo's paths have crossed once before, at the 1994 World Cup finals when the Italian, then recently retired as a player, was the assistant to Arrigo Sacchi in charge of Italy. The Nigeria team for whom Emenalo played in every one of their four games during the tournament were beaten by Italy in the first knockout round.

Emenalo's club career never quite lived up to the heights of that tournament, at which he came on as a substitute in the first game and started the next three games, including the second against Diego Maradona's Argentina. He played for clubs in Germany, Belgium, Israel, Spain, America and even a few games at Notts County but never seemed to stay anywhere for long.

When Grant, who knew him from his days in Israel, offered him a scouting job at Chelsea in 2007, Emenalo was running a private football academy in Tucson, Arizona, that operated girls' and boys' junior football teams. Tucson is Emenalo's wife's hometown but, that aside, it cannot have been a very hard decision when Chelsea came calling.

In many ways, Emenalo's rise has been even more extraordinary than that of Grant, who at least had been a successful manager in Israel. Clearly, Chelsea's new assistant manager has some powerful friends at the club who, in giving him this latest job, have made him an offer he could not resist.

He may believe that he is best served riding this wave and seeing just how far it takes him. Or he might look at Ancelotti and consider how he developed his coaching career gradually, building on a celebrated playing career by becoming Sacchi's assistant back in 1994.

From there Ancelotti was manager at Reggiana and Parma before moving up a notch to Juventus, Milan and now Chelsea, learning his trade over 17 years. Considering that, the Chelsea assistant manager, who has come from obscurity to the No 2 role at the Premier League champions via an academy in Tucson, might conclude that if his new job looks too good to be true then perhaps it is him who should be suspicious.

It takes a firmly withheld hand to hold a grudge

I have to register disappointment with Samir Nasri's handshake snub to William Gallas, which just did not have the craftiness or embarrassment factor of Wayne Bridge's sleight of hand with John Terry last season.

Bridge sold Terry the greatest dummy of his career in the handshake queue at Stamford Bridge. On Saturday, Nasri just hid behind his team-mates in the manner of someone trying to avoid being served dessert in the school dinner line. Note to all future handshake grudge-holders: look them in the eye and leave them hanging.

Irvine looks on the up as Preston head southwards

Amid the meltdown at Sheffield Wednesday, the club can at least give thanks that they have a manager of considerable talent in Alan Irvine who has kept them in the League One play-off places. After the week they have had, a 4-1 away win over MK Dons and fifth place is pretty decent.

If Irvine keeps this up – and Wednesday survive – they might just be in contention for a place in the Championship. Irvine will prove a point to Preston North End, who mystifyingly sacked him last season and, for their trouble, could be heading in the opposite direction.

Life and Style
LifeReddit asked a simple question with infinite answers this week
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice