Emma Hayes frustrated that ‘private conversations’ with Chelsea were leaked | Chelsea Women
Emma Hayes has expressed frustration at private conversations with Chelsea being leaked to the media after the announcement that she would leave at the end of the season.
In the past few days the Evening Standard claimed Chelsea had been desperate to keep Hayes and were willing to quadruple her wages, while the Daily Mail suggested Chelsea had delayed discussions over a new contract, but the manager, heavily linked with the vacant US women’s national team role, would not be drawn on whether those reports were true.
“I believe in private conversations,” Hayes said. “Of course I’m disappointed to hear things are being said in the press. I want to make sure I maintain my own professionalism in everything I do. I have a team to focus on, games to win and I don’t think anything will come between me and the players, and me and the fans. I understand Chelsea. This is my club, and it will always be my club. While I’m sad on many, many levels, I have said to the fans there will be a moment where I’m sat with them in the crowd, and I look forward to that come the end of the season.”
Hayes, asked whether she felt valued by Chelsea, said: “I work every day with a group of people – some I’ve worked with the entire time – and what we have created in that building is magical. It’s something I know every player appreciates being a part of.
“As far as I’m concerned, the people I have worked with in that period have made me feel the best coach I can feel. That’s not always easy when you’re dropping players and they are not playing week in, week out. So I leave at the end of the season knowing I have given everything and have done everything. Things and conversations that are private between myself and the club will remain private at my end. I will maintain that.”
Hayes would not comment on links to the US job. On her decision to leave, she pointed to the exhausting routine she has lived for more than a decade. “I’ve driven four hours to and from this place six days a week for 12 years,” she said. “I have a five-year-old that needs more of his mummy. That’s important. Family matters.
“It was my decision. When you coach at an elite level and you have to perform at an elite level, and you have the standards and expectations that I have, anything less than the best is not acceptable and maintaining that, on a daily grind, is a lot. It takes a lot of work.
“It is important that I’m a mum. Not many football managers sit up here and talk about that in the same way. My little boy has been extraordinary to allow me to do this, but it’s challenging for him.
“This weekend is a good example: we’ve got a game away at Everton, then away at Real Madrid. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the women’s game for people with children. We have lives – this is not a selfish decision, this is a selfless decision. This is about putting some other things first in my life and I’m ready for that.”
Hayes said her son, Harry, was “so happy” she is stepping down at Chelsea. “I don’t think he has a healthy relationship with football because he sees the unhealthy aspect of it. So, I think of it like this: he’s five, I’ve got until about the age of 12 to really maximise that. Of course, I plan to keep on working, but I want to make sure I don’t look back on my life and regret that part.”
On whether a move to the US would be an incredible opportunity, Hayes shifted back to Harry. “Picking someone up from school would be incredible, taking him to after-school club or doing some other bits, just having that flexibility would be incredible,” she said.
Hayes has been an important driver of change and growth in women’s football in England, being outspoken on areas that need improving. The WSL will miss that but Hayes said she was just one voice of many.
“It’s down to us – not me. Collectively, we have applied pressure, challenged and raised standards. Everyone who has worked with me or for me knows I have only ever had the game’s best interests at heart. I love the women’s game. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I know my personality and I’m not afraid to do the tough things even though sometimes I’m the one who takes the battering for it. I’m all right with that, because whether that’s getting more prize money or to get better facilities – I still think there’s ways to go – I know I’ve played my part. I accept that role and I’m grateful for all those people who have done the same.”