Hayes: Not my most enjoyable title – but the sweetest

Daily News
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Hayes: Not my most enjoyable title – but the sweetest

Emma Hayes says her latest run to the WSL trophy was not her most enjoyable, but the sweetest after Chelsea earned a fifth successive title on the final day of the season.

Chelsea were 6-0 winners at Manchester United to secure their seventh WSL title overall on goal difference, seven ahead of Manchester City. Both teams finished the season on 55 points.

It was the fairy-tale finish for Hayes, who now moves to the USA, with the manager telling Sky Sports she is “relieved it’s over”.

She went on to say: “I can’t say it was my most enjoyable [title], but it’s been the toughest without doubt and for that reason, probably the sweetest.

“The hardest thing to do is five in a row because people do take their eye off the ball, people do drop their standards or new players need to learn the Chelsea standard, and they haven’t all had it.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League match between Manchester United and Chelsea.

“So the connections haven’t been there in the same way, but my legacy is winning while building a team for the future.

“I believe we’ve been brave enough to play a 19-year-old [Maika] Hamano on Wednesday and a 20-year-old [Aggie] Beever-Jones because I want to develop players for the future.”

Hayes has been a figurehead in the growth of popularity of women’s football in the UK and says the sport is not going anywhere.

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Emma Hayes is front and centre to lift the Women’s Super League trophy and has the dream farewell.

“Everyone told us we couldn’t. Everyone said girls can’t play, nor can they fill stadiums, nor can they get paid, nor can they cerate history for themselves.

“Well guess what? Not only are we not going away, we are going to fill them every week.

“Women’s football is now a serious business . When it was two men and a dog up at Staines and my family as fans…to see this – it’s what it’s about.”

Kirby: A perfect end to Chelsea career

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Fran Kirby explains the joy to get a goal on her final appearance for Chelsea and what it means to leave on a winning high.

Hayes is not the only one leaving Chelsea with a picture-perfect ending. Fran Kirby also leaves the club this summer, and scored the sixth goal at Old Trafford.

“It’s not a bad [way to say goodbye],” she told Sky Sports. “I saw the timer go down and I wondered if I was going to get enough time to get on the pitch.

“I went through on goal and thought, ‘oh, please don’t save it’. I’ve been practising that finish in training for two weeks.”

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Fran Kirby scores on her last appearance for Chelsea and makes it 6-0 to Chelsea against Manchester United.

“I got a bit emotional, especially when the girls came over and they were jumping on me. Everyone was saying how many goosebumps they were getting.

“It’s been my home for nine years. I’ve grown up, matured here. I’ve had some hard moments, but some really amazing moments and how to deal with them. Everyone I have played with and worked with has made me who I am today.

“What this club and the WSL has done for women’s football in this country is amazing. To be a small part of it is something I never dreamed of growing up.

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“I’ve been at the club for a long time… For me to seal it off with a goal is perfect.”

Kirby has not yet revealed where she will play her football next season, and cryptically replied “we’ll see” when asked if it would be in the WSL.

She added: “I believe I have more to give if I get a run of consistency, being able to build my fitness and rhythm.

“I hope whatever comes next that I am able to do that, be part of something I’m excited by and go somewhere that I can take my experience into a new dressing room.”

Bright: Half the country wrote us off

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Chelsea captain Millie Bright discusses what it means to her to win her seventh Women’s Super League with Chelsea.

Chelsea captain Millie Bright took aim at people who wrote the Blues off for the title a few weeks ago.

She told Sky Sports: “It was pretty special. But when half the country writes you off and we know that we’ve got the monster mentality, we’ve done it season after season.

“We’ve always believed in ourselves and we were given a second chance, they don’t come often, but we have to take it.

“We took it against Bristol City, we took it against Tottenham and we’ve come here and put on a five-star performance to make sure we take this title.

“It’s extra special to be able to give it Emma and those other players that are leaving us. We shouldn’t be underestimated to make this kind of comeback because we’re defending champions.”

Carter: We had nothing left to lose

Chelsea’s Jess Carter to Sky Sports:

“This is the best trophies that we’ve won. The season has been so up and down, it might be the worst performances that we’ve had, but to come out on top, stay together and fight and fight… it’s incredible.

“We had to out and give everything. There was nothing left to lose. We didn’t want to have any regrets… we played with a bit of freedom and happiness to know we’re all in it together regardless of what happens.”

Niamh Charles: “It’s a special day… I’m proud to play for Chelsea and I’m so proud of the team this year.

“We knew coming in, it was about what we could control and winning the game first and foremost. This is what Chelsea’s about, showing up when it matters. I’m proud and also relieved.

“I don’t think we ever really lost hope, but we were disappointed we let it go out of hands. But we were grateful when it came back, and it’s crazy how it came back.”

Carney: Hayes’ biggest and most difficult WSL title win

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrates with the trophy after winning the Barclays WSL

Image: Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrates with the trophy after winning the WSL

Sky Sports’ Karen Carney questioned whether the Chelsea role was a “poisoned chalice” for the incoming manager and praised the team’s mentality for yet another title win.

“This is Hayes’s biggest and most difficult WSL title win with everything they have been up against,” she said.

“I said it is a bit of poisoned chalice replacing Emma Hayes. How do you improve a team that’s won five WSL titles back-to-back? You probably have to win the Champions League and the WSL.

“Emma Hayes has left a magnificent squad, you are defined by how you leave it. She’s left it in a strong place… She’s a difference, the manager.”

Christiansen: Chelsea squad like a supermarket conveyor belt

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and Millie Bright celebrate with the WSL trophy

Image: Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and Millie Bright celebrate with the WSL trophy

Sky Sports’ Izzy Christensen also looked at the strength and depth of Chelsea’s squad, who have been without key players for much of the season.

“There is something very mysterious about this Chelsea team. You can’t quite put your finger on why, because even when they play badly, they still win matches,” she said.

“The depth and quality in that squad, it’s like a supermarket conveyor belt. It just keeps coming through. To keep doing it while everyone else is pushing you and to keep instilling your authority on everyone else below you.

“Hayes and Chelsea are very selective about their recruitment and when they bring players in, they stay and they build these champions and warriors and it works like clockwork.

“We thought this would be tight today, absolutely not, look at the way Chelsea have applied themselves from minute one, they absolutely below Man Utd away, there was a huge gulf in class and they are the champions for a reason.”

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