Candidates to take over as Chelsea boss after Emma Hayes decides to move on

Chelsea assistant manager Denise Reddy (left) could take over from the departing Emma Hayes (right) (Mike Egerton/PA)
Chelsea assistant manager Denise Reddy (left) could take over from the departing Emma Hayes (right) (Mike Egerton/PA)

Chelsea are in search of a new manager after Emma Hayes announced she would be stepping down at the end of this season to “pursue a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football”.

Hayes, who since her 2012 appointment has led the Blues to 15 trophies including six Women’s Super League titles, is rumoured to be the first-choice candidate to take over the United States, who have been without a head coach since US Soccer this summer parted ways with Vlatko Andonovski following the Americans’ worst-ever finish at a Women’s World Cup.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the candidates who could look to fill Hayes’ considerable shoes.

Laura Harvey

Nuneaton-born Laura Harvey might fancy a move back home to England after a decade in America, where she is currently the head coach of OL Reign and a three-time National Women’s Soccer League coach of the year, winning three NWSL Shields and this year steering her side to a third trip to league’s championship final.

The 43-year-old, who is under contract with Reign until 2025, commands respect and has led big-name talent including Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, and led Arsenal to a domestic treble in 2011, the first season of the WSL. She has since described her time at the Gunners – a side she took over at the age of 29 – as a mixed experience, and could be keen to re-test the transformed WSL waters as a now-veteran manager.

Denise Reddy

Assistant manager Reddy is a respected and familiar face at Chelsea and could help provide a smooth transition for both players and staff who will no doubt feel a bit of culture shock in the absence of the influential Hayes, who transformed the women’s team both on and off the pitch and led a cultural revolution at the club.

The snag here would be if Reddy, who was also Hayes’ assistant at Chicago Red Stars, decides to follow her boss again, which reports suggest the former USA Under-20s assistant may well have the intention of doing.

Lluis Cortes

Cortes led Barcelona to an extraordinary 2021 treble
Cortes led Barcelona to an extraordinary 2021 treble (Adam Ihse/PA)

Few women’s clubs save Barcelona could boast the same level of success and reach as Chelsea, and Cortes was the man in charge in one of the most astonishing seasons in the Spanish side’s history when he led them to the Primera Division, Copa de la Reina and Women’s Champions League titles in 2021 before leaving on his own accord, citing a “lack of energy” to continue.

Since then he has led Ukraine’s women’s team, stepping down at the end of August, but might be persuaded back into club football by an organisation who could benefit from the 2021 UEFA women’s coach of the year’s European experience as they seek to do the one thing Hayes has so far not managed in her 11-year Chelsea tenure: win a Champions League title.