‘I’m grateful to have an owner who gets me’ – Hayes believes WSL champions Chelsea are here to stay due to Abramovich backing

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Roman Abramovich’s presence and interest in Chelsea‘s Women’s Super League team has left manager Emma Hayes with no concerns over their future after they were crowned champions on points-per-game.

The women’s side of the sport has been growing in terms of attendance and viewing figures in recent years with clubs now seeing significant growth both on and off the field.

Chelsea have led the way in terms of investment in the division, signing marquee Australia striker Sam Kerr while boosting investment behind the scenes at the training ground.

Still, there are fears that the coronavirus pandemic may stop the momentum generated in the sport after the 2019-20 season was ended early due to Covid-19.

However, Hayes thinks that Abramovich’s presence and continued dialogue are reasons to be optimistic, adding that she also has faith in the wider game to cushion the blow of the stoppage of the league.

“Yes, [Abramovich has congratulated us], I have received some messages from the whole board and the pride they have for the whole team,” Hayes said. “When we were in Israel with the owner, he spoke so openly about his growing knowledge of the women’s game and his interest in our team.

“I am extremely fortunate in all my meetings with the top people at Chelsea and the message is always clear that our owner is a big fan of the team, women’s football and he asks beyond our team what he can do for our game.

“I always ask him to keep supporting our club to the best of our abilities so we can be flag bearers where we can be. I think without what we achieved together, there wouldn’t be this success.

“Without this constant conversation or evolution, then we wouldn’t be able to win seven trophies in my time. I can only speak positively for what that relationship has done for the team. When I came into Chelsea in 2012, we were an amateur team and gone from there to where we are now which is a key reason we are in this position.

“Since I have worked with this football club, with an owner who is so supportive of the drive to win. I think there is a perfect marriage of Chelsea and myself for these reasons. I am grateful I have an owner who gets me and while I am here I will always do my best to win trophies for him.

“I celebrated with the players on a Zoom call, then I sat in the family with my garden and I hadn’t seen the majority of them which was nice. A low-key celebration with the people that mattered most to me.

“Knowing my team, when we get back, it will be business as usual. I am sure we will do something together when it is appropriate but already after the call we are talking about what’s next for us.

“When you aspire to something, once you get it, I take it in a lot more as an older person than the players who are like what’s next. They don’t want to spend time celebrating. They want to progress and get to the next level. My captain will put her hands on the trophy first and mine will be on it last.”

Emma Hayes Chelsea 2020

Indeed, captain Magdalena Eriksson will likely receive the trophy at a later date either with or without her team-mates depending on the presence of social distancing measure amid the Covid-19 crisis.

That leadership is something Hayes looks towards as a key trait in her players, who tend to have big personalities.

The break in play since the last game in February has led to Hayes watching the Last Dance, the basketball documentary series centred around Michael Jordan’s last season at the Chicago Bulls, and watching a legend like Jordan at work has inspired Hayes to try and win back-to-back titles for the first time next season.

“It is extremely hard to win back-to-back titles in any profession and I have never done that,” she added. “Watching the Last Dance, I am in awe of Phil [Jackson] and his team. It isn’t easy to win back-to-back and I won’t take it for granted.

“I learned from the Last Dance that top players drive the standards and behaviours. You need more of these players than not. The more you have working as a cohesive with the team at the epicentre of that and not the individual.

“That was the making of that team even though they had the best player in the world. I thought it was a remarkable sports series. We have so many leaders, that’s the beauty, I think of how to turn seven or eight of them into 12 or 13 and I have already spoken to my captain about how to draw it out further.”

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Meanwhile, Hayes thinks that her owner and the league in the United Kingdom will outlast the problems brought by coronavirus to the less wealthy women’s game.

Interestingly, she went onto say that her side are continuing to invest and have refined their transfer strategy.

“I think we are more joined-up than ever with the methodology and I am excited for Chelsea beyond my time as well,” she concluded.

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