October 12, 2022

Emma Hayes said she was delighted Chelsea have remained competitive this season despite a squad in transition as they prepare for the Women’s Super League title which will be decided on Sunday.

“We are healthy,” said the manager, who will say goodbye to Ji So-yun, Jonna Andersson and Drew Spence at the end of the campaign. “I think we had an aging team, we had to try to find that balance and compete during the transition. It’s really difficult. As a coach, that’s why I’m glad we’re able to compete, because that’s the hardest thing to do, believe me, when you’re in an age transition.

Chelsea are one point ahead of Arsenal going into the final matchday of the season and will claim a third consecutive title if their home result against Manchester United is not improved by Arsenal, who play at West Ham. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Hayes amid injuries, key absences in the Asian Cup and lingering concerns over England striker Fran Kirby’s fatigue.

“I would say [the bonds are deeper and stronger as a result]”, said Hayes. “Man City had problems at the start of the year and they struggled. We lost Magda Eriksson for three months, Pernille Harder for big chunks, Asian Cup girls for big chunks, Melanie Leupolz, Maren Mjelde. We expected Maren to come back last August, we planned for Maren to come back – huge losses. My question is how many top teams would have faced this and still be there?

Sign up for our new women’s football newsletter.

If there’s pressure ahead of the final day and then an FA Cup final against City the following Sunday, Hayes says she doesn’t feel it. “I come from an HLM housing estate. Believe me, the pressure was putting money on the table to pay the bill; it’s not pressure. Look at the cost of inflation, look at the rising costs for people paying the bills.

“It’s far from being a pressure; it’s a pleasure, I like my job. I enjoy the situation, but more importantly, I enjoy representing a club that I love and being in a position where we can continue to win on behalf of Chelsea is something I think I was born to do.

Source link