Could Chelsea manager Emma Hayes soon move into the men’s game?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Chelsea Manager Emma Hayes (right) and Fran Kirby celebrate winning the Vitality Women's FA Cup Final between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Wembley Stadium on December 05, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Chelsea Manager Emma Hayes (right) and Fran Kirby celebrate winning the Vitality Women's FA Cup Final between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Wembley Stadium on December 05, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

After winning the FAWSL Manager of the Season in 2022 and the Best FIFA Women’s Coach in 2021, teams are now taking note of what Emma Hayes is doing with the Chelsea Women. As her success with the Blues continues to move to the next level, there has been some talk about whether Hayes could take her talents to the men’s game. For Chelsea, this would be a nightmare and something that probably might not happen given how much Hayes loves the club, but having a manager that can be considered for this position is incredibly rare in today’s society.

According to some reports, League Two side Crawley Town FC considered Hayes as its No. 1 option to replace John Yems after some reports were released by the Football Association about the language he used on his players. Seeing a men’s team—even though it is in the fourth tier of English football—hold an interest in a women’s coach could expand the horizon of clubs around the world looking for a new manager. Crawley Town reportedly made the move to switch its interest from Hayes to Arsenal Men’s U23 boss Kevin Betsy, but the long-standing question remains. Could Hayes one day take her talents to the men’s game?

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Could Emma Hayes one day leave Chelsea to pursue a men’s managerial role?

After the win that clinched the double against Manchester City, Hayes spoke about her future:

"“Everyone knows I’ve got a contract at Chelsea, so what’s the speculation about? Maybe there’s a job that you guys are telling me I’m going for that I don’t know about. But as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have to kill any speculation. I’m under contract at Chelsea and there’s nothing to talk about.”"

The most interesting thing about what Hayes said following the match was that she did not kill off any speculation about her future with Chelsea. In her new contract that was signed in the summer of 2021, it states no end date for when the contract is up. She has the power in her own hands to make any decision she wants, or what she thinks is best for her future career. There is no doubt that more and more men’s clubs will come crawling, wanting the services of Hayes.

She has all the tools and qualifications to coach any club at any level, no matter the gender. Her winning record speaks for itself, but her intelligence and tactical knowledge of the game are on a whole different level. Hayes knows how to recruit talent, shown in the fact that she was able to bring a National Women’s Soccer League star across the ocean to play for a rising club like Chelsea. Hayes has held onto that “if you can do it, I can do it better” mentality since she took the helm with the Blues, as she consistently finds ways to build a winning team year after year.

This season, it is a League Two team trying to snatch Hayes away from Chelsea, but next year it could be a team in League One or another higher division around Europe. The world does not see many women managers coaching men’s football, especially ones that move from the women’s game to the men’s game. Hayes may not have managed a men’s team before, but she has seen it all in the women’s game. From college soccer in the United States to the NWSL with the Chicago Red Stars, Hayes knows what it is like to recruit and cultivate a winning identity—no matter what level the club plays at in the present.

Men’s clubs will continue to make note and consider Hayes for a manager position, but there is no doubt that it is going to be difficult to pry her away from Chelsea. Her five titles and two FA Cups make her one of the most invaluable assets that the entire club has, and losing Hayes would be shocking in itself for the Blues. While the club would be able to recover, seeing the Chelsea Women without Hayes as the boss is something that would take some getting used to.

The significance of this news is not about Hayes leaving the club anytime soon, it is about her trailblazing personality. The women’s game is becoming more and more respected around the world as clubs are starting to notice the phenomenal jobs that these managers are doing with their respective teams. Even though the games are significantly different when it comes to the dispersion of talent, being able to consistently find success like Hayes has done no matter where is remarkable, no matter the circumstances.

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It may not be something that creates a lot of headlines in the future, but the door for women heading to the men’s game is beginning to open. Hayes is breaking the barrier and leading the charge for her fellow women’s managers.