‘There’s a title to be won’ – Hayes puts Chelsea back in race for WSL

Home » ‘There’s a title to be won’ – Hayes puts Chelsea back in race for WSL

As Emma Hayes walked down the Kingsmeadow tunnel one last time, Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ rang out through the stadium speakers.

But there was no time for tears for the departing manager after her final home match in charge of Chelsea.

Four days earlier, the 47-year-old had conceded the Women’s Super League title was “done” and – in her view – heading to Manchester City for the first time since 2016.

Hayes and her players looked downbeat and forlorn after a shock 4-3 defeat by Liverpool. Players huddled and consoled each other as they cried over what would seemingly be a trophyless campaign.

But after Sunday’s emphatic 8-0 thrashing of Bristol City, not only are Chelsea back in the title race, it is now also back in their hands.

While they are three points behind Gareth Taylor’s side with a game in hand, their goal difference has taken a significant boost and is now better than City’s.

As fans and players gathered to see Hayes address them for the final time on home turf, the adrenaline from the emphatic win over the already-relegated Robins was still pumping.

Initially she was unable to speak, as a farewell video was played out on a big screen, with Hayes watching on while hugging her son Harry.

But the contrast from Wednesday night was stark, as Hayes issued a rallying cry down the microphone.

“Let me be clear. It is not over,” she said. “There is no time for sentimentality. All work drinks are cancelled, there is a title to be won.

“And you know what? That group of players taught me something so special this week, that you never ever give up and this is what it means to be Chelsea.”

So many of Hayes’ players over the years have praised her for the impact in their professional and personal lives, but it was clear this week it was them that lifted her up.

In her post-match interviews, Hayes was more like the bullish manager we have come to know and love over the years, with a fire reignited inside her.

After the departing Maren Mjelde and Fran Kirby had said their goodbyes to Kingsmeadow, Hayes was introduced to the pitch for her presentation as “someone that has pushed this club into the titan it is today”.

It was only fitting that her players put on a performance of champions in her final game in charge at the ground she has enjoyed so much success over the years.

“We wanted to make sure it was a game to remember for the fans,” Hayes said.

“It’s emotional. I’ve spent a third of my life doing this. This has been my home, my family. My son has been born here. My dad died in the last year.

“It’s a club that has been my entire heart. I look out tonight, I see these fans, I feel the love, I feel the love for the team and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted.”

The WSL title could have been wrapped up on Sunday night if Manchester City beat Arsenal and Chelsea dropped points against Bristol City.

City were 1-0 up in the 89th minute, but Stina Blackstenius’ dramatic late double saw Taylor’s side throw away a precious three points.

“If you told me at the beginning of the day Arsenal would beat City in the last five minutes and we would win 8-0, what are the odds of that?,” Hayes said.

“That shows when you have belief. I said to the players if Man City slip up we have to be ready. Today was another opportunity to get closer to something that was slipping out of our grasp.

“I’m super proud. Everything Chelsea represents are days like today.”

If Chelsea win their game in hand against Tottenham on 15 May, it looks like another dramatic final day is on the cards.

The quadruple dream may be over, but with a newfound fire inside her, you would be silly to rule Hayes out of guiding Chelsea to one last title before heading stateside.

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