Emma Hayes ends Chelsea tenure with her ‘best title’ after latest WSL success

The Blues topped the table on goal difference ahead of Manchester City.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrated with the trophy
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrated with the trophy (Martin Rickett/PA)

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes described it as her “best title” after her side were once again crowned Women’s Super League champions having thrashed Manchester United 6-0 at Old Trafford in the final game of her tenure.

The Blues finished top on goal difference ahead of second-placed Manchester City – 2-1 winners at Aston Villa – to make it five league titles in a row.

It takes their haul since Hayes became boss in 2012 to seven WSL titles and 14 major trophies in total as she prepares to depart to take charge of the United States’ women’s team.

And the 47-year-old, who has had the likes of striker Sam Kerr and captain Millie Bright sidelined for long spells this season, told a press conference: “We’ve had some big injuries this year.

“Losing the volume of leadership we have at the back and up top I think did take its toll, plus the transitioning of new players, young players, and the diminishing role of some of the senior players.

“That’s why, for me, this is the best title because we’re not stupid, we know we weren’t at our best. But for us to win a title – wow. I’m sorry, I don’t think you guys realise how hard it is to win and win and win and win. I almost can’t believe we’ve won the title.”

She added: “I’m so tired. I mean it. I’m exhausted, from 12 years, not just 90 minutes of football. I’m always so grateful for the players and what they’ve done for me and the club – but I’m so relieved it’s over.

“I categorically cannot carry on, so I am absolutely leaving at the right time.”

Hayes said she did not “have another drop to give” to the job, but looking ahead to her new position with the US, she said: “It’s not tiring thinking about going to Olympics. It’s different, different energy, I’ll feel reinvigorated and re-energised with something else.

“Sometimes people think you need a rest, sometimes you just need a change.”

When asked if it was the end of her Chelsea story or just the end of a chapter, Hayes said: “If I’m to ever be around club football again, I don’t suspect it will be in coaching.

“But when my tenure is done with the United States, if Chelsea ever need me, they know what my number is.”

Sir Alex Ferguson was among those in attendance at Old Trafford, and Hayes said: “I missed my drink with Sir Alex because I was celebrating too much!

“He was waiting for me and I’m absolutely gutted. Sorry Sir Alex, I was really looking forward to that glass of red!”

Rampant Chelsea were two up by the eighth minute and 4-0 ahead at half-time, with Mayra Ramirez scoring twice and setting up finishes by Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Sjoeke Nusken.

Chelsea finished top on goal difference ahead of second-placed Manchester City
Chelsea finished top on goal difference ahead of second-placed Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)

Melanie Leupolz added a fifth just after the break and Nusken’s fellow substitute Fran Kirby, making her final Chelsea appearance, subsequently completed the rout.

For Marc Skinner’s United, it was a sobering afternoon six days on from winning the FA Cup, which sees them end up fifth in the WSL table, a year after finishing as runners-up.

Skinner said when asked about goals conceded: “They were rubbish. I felt we made too many mistakes and really didn’t make Chelsea work hard enough.

“It was nothing to do with the players’ attitude – but Chelsea had everything to fight for and were right on the edge, and that was just too much for us in the physical stakes. It’s something I have to fix going forwards into the summer and beyond.”

He added: “We just produced the first trophy in the club’s history. If you know anything about me, the resilience and drive I have in me is to continue that and to take this team to the next dimension.

“Of course I’m sorry to our fans, but they are intelligent and understand the situation, the growth and that I will give absolutely everything physically and mentally in order to get our team to where we want them to be.”