It is truly a blessing to be able to have a manager like Emma Hayes as the guiding light for the Chelsea Women. Players have been in and out of the line-up for years, but the one constant driving force has been the culture that Hayes has created since coming to Kingsmeadow. This season marks the 10th year that Hayes has been in charge at Chelsea. Her tactical knowledge and player-oriented coaching style have been key reasons why the Blues have elevated themselves into the upper echelons of women’s football anywhere in the world. This weekend, Hayes will go head-to-head with another great FAWSL manager, Jonas Eidevall, for a place in the FA Cup final.
The 45-year-old entered the league as the first female manager at the time as she took over for Matt Beard. He had been at the helm of the Chelsea Women for the previous three seasons, where the team found some success in the old FA Women’s Premier League National Division. After one turbulent season in the newly founded Women’s Super League, Beard decided to resign as the manager and head to Liverpool. This may have been one of the best things that has ever happened to Chelsea Football Club. The Blues would have missed out on one of the best managers in the world without Beard leaving in July of 2012. Due to Beard’s departure, a woman who once played in Arsenal’s academy would now get the chance to hold the reins at Chelsea.
Chelsea Football Club is lucky to have Emma Hayes as its women’s manager
After missing out on the club’s first league title in 2015 on goal difference to Liverpool, Hayes revamped the roster. She recruited what the world knows today as club legends in Millie Bright, Fran Kirby and Ji So-yun. It was, in reality, just two years of trying things out and getting her hands dirty in terms of signing players and adopting the identity she wanted at Chelsea. The Blues have won four league titles, two FA Cups, two League Cups and a Community Shield since 2015.
In an interview, Hayes spoke about her holistic approach to developing a culture at a club:
“The culture we have tried to create is based on striving for professionalism in every way, shape, and form. The culture involves the players understanding the importance of adopting the right emotional daily approach. We want an understanding that playing football is a profession with certain professional expectations.”
Hayes has now won the league more times than any other manager. Back in the 2019/20 season, she broke the record for the most FAWSL Manager of the Month awards in a single season at three. Hayes is also the current leader for the most wins at a single club in the Women’s Super League. She took a team that was known to be inconsistent at times in many competitions and transformed them into a club that people have no choice but to sit back and admire.
A whole decade of Hayes and many more years to come. Roman Abramovich has been a salient part of the Chelsea Women’s revolution in the past 10 years. With both of them at the helm, they not only changed the Chelsea Women’s team, but women’s football as a whole. Hayes has been a trailblazer when it comes to women’s football. The game is still trying to develop traction, especially the WSL, but her skills as a leader have no doubt left a mark on the game of football.
In 2019, the average attendance of a Chelsea Women’s game at Kingsmeadow was about 2,040. One year later—before the pandemic—the number jumped to 6,571. Plenty of people deserve credit for this jaw-dropping accomplishment. However, none of the success would be made possible without the person who set the line-up card for each match. Hayes is someone that truly cares about each and everyone at the club. The defending “Best FIFA Women’s Coach” winner is always striving to constantly get better at her craft.
In the span of 10 years, Hayes has grown the women’s game in ways people could not have dreamed of beforehand. There is plenty of work that is left to be done to bring the game to more people, but Hayes has done her part and then some at Chelsea. Heading into the final month of the season, Blues fans and the footballing world need to truly appreciate what Hayes has done.