Analysis

Emma Hayes: We finished as strong as we possibly could

Chelsea Women ended the 2018/19 WSL season against Reading at the weekend with a 3-2 victory, securing third place and manager Emma Hayes is pleased with the outcome after a challenging campaign.

The Blues were comfortably 1-0 up at the interval against fifth place Reading, courtesy of Ji So-Yun’s fourth-minute super strike from the edge of the box.

However, a day of celebration for our no.1 Hedvig Lindahl, who captained the side as she played her final game as a Blue in between the sticks, turned out to be a game of two halves when both sides got two goals apiece in the second half.

While Hayes acknowledged that both sides switched off soon after the restart, she was disappointed that her team conceded two goals in a short space of time, but happy that they finished with a win.

‘I think it had all the hallmarks of a last game of the season with nothing to play for,’ she said.

‘I think for both teams switching off so quickly after restart was an indicator of that, lapse in concentration.

‘I think both managers will be disappointed with the timing of the goals, but I think it was a great way for us to end after a difficult domestic campaign – to finish third and I’m very happy with that.

‘Our team can go away from home, again a dead rubber game and produce that performance because the level of professionals and the quality of those professionals is of a high standard.’

Although the Blues did not clinch any silverware, we have had a season to be proud of and Hayes is certain that her squad will be ready for the next campaign.

‘Nonetheless we finished third, finished as strong as we possibly could,' she said. ‘Everything will be prepared for the new season so we start with a bang, and I will get it right in the off-season to make sure we start pre-season strongly.’

When asked whether she thought this season was a disappointment, she responded: ‘Yes and no, the progress in terms of having trophies yes that’s the disappointment. But if we think back to 12 months ago and playing a game in the Champions League and being destroyed against Wolfsburg to that development, then there’s progress made.

‘We could very well be talking about being in the European Champions League final today, that’s where the margins were and I couldn’t have even said that 12 months ago, so progress has been made in that area.

‘The rest of the league have improved after six years there had to come a point Arsenal were going to compete and they have been the outstanding team all year, they are deserving of their title and now it’s their time to have a marker on their back and our time to be in the chaser position.’

Hayes will be reviewing the season in full on ChelseaFC.com soon.

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