Sunday , July 3 2022

Emma Hayes hails Chelsea’s FA Cup winners as ‘best I’ve ever coached’ | Women’s FA Cup

Emma Hayes said her current group of players is the “best I’ve ever coached” after Chelsea’s hard-fought 3-2 victory against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

“Honestly, those women will go down in history,” a beaming Hayes said. “I will look back in 10 years’ time and I’ll be like: ‘That group was immense.’ It’s the best team I’ve ever coached.

“I totally understand that we always want to talk about perfection in football but having been on the winning side more often than not, let me tell you, it’s about human endeavour. And we have a group of people who are not going to be on the losing team, they’ll find a way.”

Hayes’s team twice took the lead in a thrilling chess match of a game that went to extra time in front of a record crowd for the final. Sam Kerr put Chelsea ahead in the 33rd minute only for Lauren Hemp to equalise shortly before half-time. Erin Cuthbert restored Chelsea’s lead just after the hour but the City substitute Hayley Raso scored with a minute of normal time remaining. Kerr struck again in the first half of extra time.

The Manchester City manager, Gareth Taylor, said that rather than disappointment he felt pride in the fight shown by his side. “Of course I’m biased but I felt we were the dominant team for large periods of the game,” he said. “We showed character to bounce back.

“We were the only team in extra time that I felt was going to go on and do it but then we made a slight error on the halfway line which ended up costing us. Obviously, it’s difficult then because Chelsea can see the finish line and see the game out.

Gareth Taylor alongside Manchester City player Alex Greenwood at Wembley
Gareth Taylor alongside Manchester City player Alex Greenwood at Wembley. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

“My feeling at the moment isn’t really disappointment. Of course, we have lifted the trophy before and wanted to do it again but at the moment my feeling is of pride for the way the team has played at times.”

Hayes was overcome with the win. “I seriously want to cry with joy,” she said. “I’m so happy, if you can’t tell from the smile on my face. I’ve been involved in lots of football matches. Nothing was more enjoyable than that win today. Even though my assistant nearly knocked me out following our winner. He literally pulverises me. That game was a win for women’s football.

“I love these games. I love playing Man City and they love playing us for the same reason, it’s football at the highest level. Tactically both teams have their strengths. I thought we did enough because we stopped them in their game, in the way that I’ve seen them control the games. I thought we were bold; really, really bold and I think that’s why we’re the winning team.”

Moving the Goalposts
Illustration: Guardian Design

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The manager was dismissive of speculation regarding her future in the post-Abramovich era after completing the league and FA Cup double meant she has 11 major trophies with Chelsea. “You ask me this question every time that we win so it’s not like I’m coming in here disrespecting the question, but I think this needs to be about the three players that are departing rather than my future,” she said, referring to Jonna Andersson, Ji So-yun and Drew Spence.

“As far as I’m concerned I don’t have to kill any speculation. I’m under contract at Chelsea and there’s nothing to talk about.”

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