Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes will take charge of the team for the 200th time when we host Bristol City Women at Kingsmeadow on Sunday, a game that can be watched live on The 5th Stand app.
Hayes has been at the club since 2012, guiding the Blues to a first major trophy in 2015 when we lifted the Women’s FA Cup at Wembley, before completing a historic double as we went on to win the Women’s Super League title.
More success followed in 2017 when the one-off FA Spring Series was won before a second domestic double of the FA Cup and the WSL title was secured in 2018 to complete a trophy-laden three years.
Hayes also made history in the Champions League as the Blues mixed it with Europe’s best, with two successful campaigns coming in 2017/18 and 2018/19 as we reached the last four.
On the first occasion we bowed out to Wolfsburg after a 5-1 aggregate defeat, and last season we narrowly missed out on a place in the final when we were beaten 2-3 over two legs by six-time winners Lyon.
But despite the achievements over the years, Hayes has not lost her hunger for more honours in the years to come.
‘We should have won more,’ she states. ‘Because of the lost ones I don’t think of the ones we have in the bag, I think of the ones we didn’t win.
‘The thought of being serial winners has to dominate at least my thinking, but winning is addictive so I don’t feel any less driven, in fact the opposite. The more we compete, the more I want success for the club.
‘Two hundred games – I can’t remember the first one, I doubt I remember the 50th, 100th and the 150th, but because you mentioned it, I’ll remember the 200th game,’ Hayes says modestly.
Hayes also outlined the brilliant progress the club has made since she took the reins in 2012 and discussed how the women’s game has evolved.
‘It’s unrecognisable I think it’s fair to say, it’s not the same,’ Hayes said.
‘It has become a professional sport and with all the learnings, all the trappings that come with it and a sport that’s here to stay as long as we keep progressing down the right routes and keep developing commercially. With broadcasting arrangements I think the sport will grow at an even bigger pace.’
This weekend’s opponents have had a disappointing campaign thus far, but will be full of confidence coming off the back of their first win of the term having beaten Manchester United 1-0 last weekend.
The Chelsea boss insists her players will need to be fully focused on the job in hand when the Robins arrive in south-west London this weekend.
‘Brighton and Liverpool have been two stumbling blocks for us so I have to work really hard to make sure the whole environment is switched on in these weeks because these are games that can easily run away and turn into draws, even with domination,’ Hayes says.
The Blues have hit the halfway point of the season and are on a superb run, the only team in the league that are unbeaten. And while it's been an impressive start for our quest for silverware, the Chelsea boss’s feet remain firmly on the ground.
‘Sometimes when you’re always in the middle of it you don’t stop and reflect because you’re always thinking about the next game, but if I was to give us a mark out of 10 I’d say about eight because there are no trophies in the bank, even if we are unbeaten.
‘But the team are starting to build upon an unbeaten run and because of that you start to see more confidence going forward, especially Sam [Kerr] and Jamie [Napier] coming in, we’ve really added another dimension to the team.
‘They both bring a competitiveness and a tenacity. You have always got big shoes to fill when you come here. Apart from being brilliant characters, they are very hungry competitors.’
Kerr made her first Chelsea start on Sunday and the Australian forward instantly showcased her superstar qualities when she almost got a goal inside 60 seconds of the contest.
The No.20 set up Bethany England with a clever backheel which enabled her team-mate to equalise, and Hayes was enthused with the new strike partnership.
‘I’ll be honest, I think they only trained together [before the Reading match] twice but there is a natural understanding, they both have opposite movements yet they are very similar.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing that develop, as I will the relationships with Sam and the other players on the pitch. But it certainly gave me a lot of encouragement at the weekend. She’s been a bit of a missing piece I felt in terms of a player that will give us another dimension.’