Emma Hayes: ‘No one just wants to go into the summer with just memories’

Coming off the back of a disappointing FA Cup semifinal loss to Manchester United, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes spoke to the media on Tuesday to preview her side’s Barclays Women’s Super League clash against Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow.

In the space of a matter of weeks, Chelsea’s quadruple push has been turned on its head after the aforenoted loss to Manchester United, and a Conti Cup final defeat to Arsenal. In her press conference on Tuesday morning, Aston Villa boss Carla Ward suggested that ‘wounded animals are dangerous animals’ – and Hayes spoke on whether she agrees with that description and what she’s hoping for in this game.

‘No, I don’t feel that at all. My job is to make sure I’m reminding the players of how well they’ve done over a long period of time, and how proud I am of the way we keep pushing to be in the back end of everything. I want the players to enjoy themselves tomorrow, I want them to go out at Kingsmeadow in front of a fanbase that I truly hope appreciates this group of players. I think this team over a number of years have delivered so much success to this football club, and these players sometimes get taken for granted.’

Hayes was in good spirits when asked about how she thinks Aston Villa will set up on Wednesday night and gave a very direct response to what she’s expecting of the game and build-up. ‘I expect a 5-3-2 in a low block with Rach [Daly] in the ten, and two nines that are going to hit us on the counter,’ she explained.

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‘I expect Carla to give me crap before the game like she always does, and I expect Aston Villa to come here and make it really difficult for us. They’ll think we’re a team there for the taking and I hope it’ll be a great game.’

Adding to that, she gave a very interesting insight into her methods of training in the buildup to facing a team who will sit in a low block and give them a lot of possession, and how she has used academy players and the youth boys’ teams to ensure her team are as best prepared as possible.

‘I always make sure with have eleven vs eleven, that’s why we have the boys in our training environment – sometimes it will be academy players, but generally speaking we usually have four or five boys training with us to make sure if we’re working on things like that [breaking down low blocks], as quite rightly you can visualise it or work on it in the classroom, but actually carrying that out where you have someone playing as the opponent.’

Finally, Hayes reiterated what she wanted from her team in this run-in. With a crucial couple of weeks ahead with huge WSL and UEFA Women’s Champions League games, she spoke on how important her squad’s focus and drive is to end this season with silverware. 

‘In an ideal world, you go into the summer with a medal. No one just wants to go into the summer with just memories. We’ve done a lot of winning, it’s not like we don’t know what that feels like, there’s still a way to go and we’re still in two competitions and we have to commit to that. Show up! That’s what I’m challenging my players to do, show up in training, show up in games, make sure you’re present and make sure we are in a position to perform, which you have to if you want to win.’