Emma Hayes set the bar and is perfect for the USA job but fairytale finish with Chelsea could be a tall order
Chelsea could rule Europe but we'll be out to stop her.
Emma Hayes has been an incredible manager for Chelsea, a great servant to the club and brilliant for the Women’s Super League.
So her decision to move on after what will be 12 years and take the job as head coach of the USA national team was big news and a big move for her personally, returning to a country where she has coached previously with Long Island Lady Riders, Iona Gaels and Chicago Red Stars.
Her presence will certainly be felt in the US as much as it will be missed in England after the impact she has made at Chelsea, where she has won six league titles, one Spring Series, five FA Cups and two League Cups. Let’s not forget she was named Fifa Best coach in 2021 too, the same year she was inducted into the WSL Hall of Fame.
But when it came to the big call she had to make recently, news of her departure did not take me by surprise.
Emma must have thought ‘what more can I do?’ but the one she hasn’t won is the Champions League, having reached the 2021 final before losing 4-0 to Barcelona.
What a fairytale ending it would be for her at Chelsea to now sign off with a first European crown.
She has done unbelievably well, winning league titles and trophies aplenty, but the Champions League is missing and that must give her and her players even more motivation to try to win it this season.
There were rumours she would move into the men’s game, but why? Women’s football is not the stepping stone for the likes of Emma and Sarina Wiegman that some believe it to be.
But it didn’t shock me that she’s going to the US. The job seems a good fit for Emma and well suited to her personality and obviously she has coached in America before.
And the US need big change. A lot of the big personalities such as Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd have gone and there is a new group. Emma has shown at Chelsea that she can work and build something.
She says out loud what others are thinking and that’s part of her charm and, I think, what makes her such a good pundit too.
I’ve only ever had one proper conversation with Emma and that was on the way back from the World Cup this summer, as she was on our flight, sitting next to England boss Sarina.
The three of us had a conversation about Chelsea and England forward Lauren James and her tournament and in Lauren’s talent Emma and I found something we agreed on.
Emma is someone who has set the bar, the first manager in women’s football, certainly at club level, to be herself and not shy away from being outspoken. She is always herself and you can’t argue with that.
Emma is not afraid of what anyone thinks of her. So can she win the European Cup before she heads to America?
Chelsea often start the season fairly slowly but still pick up results because that’s what they do. That’s Emma and that’s Chelsea.
However, as the only English team left in the Champions League, they will be doing more travelling than anybody else. On the flipside, I don’t think any of their Women’s Super League rivals have started brilliantly.
Emma and Chelsea are fully capable of becoming European champions but I don’t know if they will. I’m not writing off her fairytale ending, though. But Emma and her Chelsea stars will have to get past my team Barcelona first.
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