With yesterday’s news that the England FA finally — finally! — will move on from Phil Neville as women’s team manager, speculation about his replacement has begun. The natural place to look is the top of the WSL table. Manchester City, who have played one more match than Chelsea, are at the very top, but their manager left in February to take a position with Major League Soccer’s NYCFC. This shifts nearly all eyes to Chelsea’s manager since 2012, Emma Hayes.
That type of longevity is unheard of around Chelsea — the men’s team have had seven (7!) different head coaches since! — but Hayes has grown as a coach and person, as have her ambitions. Currently, and thankfully for Chelsea, she’s focused on winning the Champions League, which I hear is a thing you cannot do with a national team.
“Well, I think first of all I still have half a season to go and another full season next year to contemplate, where hopefully we qualify for Europe.
It’s been no secret that I have real big ambitions to win the Champions League and I think we’ve built a team that is capable of competing for that. I’ve got a couple more pieces to finish the side off with.”
The exciting news for us is the nugget at the end. Having signed Guro Reiten before the 2019-20 season, Sam Kerr and Jamie-Lee Napier in January, and most recently Bayern Munich captain Melanie Leupolz, Hayes and Chelsea clearly aren’t done.
It also sounds like Hayes isn’t tossing out some wafty statement to force a formal offer, she genuinely wants to win the Champions League. It’s the pinnacle of the project she’s been a part of for nearly a decade. Even with England having their most talented team (probably) ever, leaving Chelsea now would be quitting the race a few steps before the finish line.
And, it’s not all about ambition for Hayes; she genuinely loves the job and the environment. Before play was halted due to a pandemic, her squad had already picked up the first trophy en route to a potential treble-winning season.
“I love the day-to-day coaching and I’ve loved every minute that I’ve worked at Chelsea and I look forward to building on the work that I’ve done so far.
“Of course, it is an honour to be linked with your national team. At the moment I’ve probably been more considered about entering international football at some stage in my life, but right now I’m extremely happy at Chelsea.”
-Emma Hayes; source: SkySports
It’s clear that at some point Emma Hayes will move on — and the national team is one of the handful of jobs above her current role — but given her and Chelsea’s investments, now very likely isn’t the time.