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Chelsea FC Women named FA Club of the Year, already making moves to improve

No crisis, no stagnation, all-action

Millie Bright and Fran Kirby accept the Club of the Year award at the FA Women’s Football awards
Photo by Kate Green for FA

While the Chelsea men’s senior team continues to writhe in perma-crisis, with no director of football, no head coach, no players bought, no roster changes — no real action of any kind, actually, and maybe not even a new stadium — the Chelsea women’s team are moving as efficiently off the pitch as they did on it.

But first, some awards!

On Friday night, at the 20th annual FA Women’s Football Awards, Chelsea collected not only the Club of the Year award but Emma Hayes was rightly named Head Coach of the Year as well. Surprisingly, no Chelsea player collected an individual award, but we can let the others have those so they don’t feel too left out.

“It’s always nice to pick up an award and obviously being Club of the Year is massive. I think it shows how far the club has actually come, with the work that has gone on behind the scenes finally getting recognised and Emma plays a huge role in that,” said centre back Millie Bright, who collected the award on behalf of the team.

But as all good teams should, Chelsea are not resting on their laurels. Like Antonio Conte said recently, “when you win, you must understand what is the best way to improve”, and Chelsea FC Women are showing exactly how that’s done.

It’s been less than two weeks since they came back from two goals down to beat Liverpool and secure an Invincible season, which included a domestic league and cup Double and an historic run to the UEFA Woman’s Champions League semi-final. It was the club’s best-ever season since its inception in 1992, and they celebrated it by rebranding from the archaic Chelsea Ladies FC to the more modern Chelsea FC Women name.

But that administrative change was only the tip of the iceberg in what’s already been a busy, efficient, significant two weeks. The club has already begun reorganizing the squad, re-signing key players and saying farewell to loyal, valued players who labored over the years to lift Chelsea to these current heights.

In the signings department, the biggest name is Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year, Player’s Player of the Year and Chelsea Player of the Year Super Fran Kirby inking a three-year contract extension which keeps her at Chelsea until 2021. Super Frank may be at Derby County these days, but Super Fran will be Blue for the foreseeable future, and that’s fantastic news.

Also signing extensions are creative midfielder and ball-wizard Ji So-yun, who committed for two more years and becomes one of the club’s highest-paid players....

... and steady and versatile Maren Mjelde, who added three years to her deal, keeping her at Chelsea until 2021 (check out the goal at the very beginning of the video!)

Saying goodbye are captain Katie Chapman, who’s retiring to become a club ambassador after winning her England-record 10th (!) FA Cup final, Claire Rafferty, Chelsea FC Woman’s longest-serving player with 11 years in Blue, and back-up goalkeeper Fran Kitching.

Also departing is England and Chelsea striker Eniola Aluko, who closed out her career with the Blues in spectacular fashion, scoring Chelsea’s 100th goal of the season in her final appearance.

Phew! They’ve been busy, organized and no-nonsense. What a refreshing contrast to certain other parts of the Chelsea organization!

Chelsea FCW’s next order of business will be adding new players. Given how aggressive and ambitious they’ve been in the last two seasons (signing Fran Kirby was a coup three years ago), it’s fairly safe to say that some major talent may be incoming before the newly reorganized Super League kicks-off its new season in September.

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