Hayes: James is a maverick, Wiegman and I manage her together

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Hayes: James is a maverick, Wiegman and I manage her together

Emma Hayes says she enjoys dealing with “maverick” players such as Lauren James – who stole the show in Chelsea’s win over Arsenal – and highlighted the work her and England manager Sarina Wiegman do to keep her on track as “she’s not easy to manage”.

James was influential in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over the Gunners to put them in control of the Women’s Super League title race, scoring the first goal then playing a big role in setting up Sjoeke Nusken’s first – as the Blues went 3-0 up in 32 minutes at a packed out Stamford Bridge.

The 22-year-old now has 13 goals in the WSL this season – second-highest on the division’s goal scoring rankings – and Hayes described her as “unplayable” in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday night.

“It’s a playground for her out there,” Hayes said. “We coach many different players. Lauren is a maverick. It’s not always perfect, it’s not always on point. It’s not always consistent in every element of her game, but I will tell you this much: I understand that person.

“I do really well with maverick players. If I look over the course of my career, I don’t know why but I just deal really well with that type of player. Do I relate to her as a Londoner? Maybe. I try to teach her all the time little bits that are really, really valuable on the way.

“She’s not easy to manage, Sarina would say the same thing. Sarina and I work together to do get on the same pages for LJ and Sarina and mines relationship as been top in managing that.

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Emma Hayes shares her thoughts on Chelsea’s impressive 3-1 win over Arsenal, insisting the showing was the kind of performance her team are capable of.

“You just have to put people in the right positions to be able to perform and simplify their roles. Sometimes I don’t think I will get it from her all the time, I wish I would. That’s the next step but she’s played more minutes than last year at a higher level.

“Sometimes I think we all expect extraordinary things from her and don’t get them. But tonight, she was unplayable.”

Asked if she enjoys the challenge of working with James, Hayes replied: “Not when I get a phone call at 11pm at night and I’ve got my head on the pillow!

“She doesn’t always understand her boundaries with certain situations. If she wants something, she can be extremely demanding. But I love LJ, I love that kid and she can be infuriating sometimes for her team, but I love her.”

‘A full Stamford Bridge makes the team better’

Chelsea fans ahead of their WSL meeting with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge

Image: Nearly 33,000 fans turned up in a record Chelsea attendance

Hayes also paid tribute to her club for producing a record WSL attendance for the Blues.

Nearly 33,000 fans turned up to Stamford Bridge for the encounter – including a huge 6,000 travelling contingent in the away end – and Hayes says the big attendances help the players.

“I love there being a big crowd, I really did,” the Chelsea manager said. “I loved seeing the away section, I love the whole rivalries that come with the women’s game. It’s growing.

“It was fun to see an Arsenal section sold out and then the rest of the stadium. There was a noise and an atmosphere. I think it improves the product.

“We’ve taken a while to get to this point, and my commercial manager texted me saying ‘I always promised we will get to this point.’ I want to thank them because I know how hard it is.

“Everyone compared us to Arsenal off the pitch, but the realities are: to develop a cohesive plan to sell out a stadium takes a large amount of time. Tonight, we saw the fruits of their labour.

“I know they’re really happy about that. It makes the players feel better. It felt like a home game. And everybody said: ‘hey, Chelsea don’t want to play top teams in the big stadiums’. We do. We just want it to be full. I’m really proud of the whole club tonight.

“I love Kingsmeadow, but I always want a full Stamford Bridge. That’s our record attendance, we talk about the successes of Arsenal, we have to mirror that. Tonight should be a celebration.”

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