Interview

Hayes delighted to reach Conti Cup final

Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes hailed her team’s ruthless performance as we cruised to the Continental Tyres League Cup final for a second successive year with a 6-0 triumph over West Ham on Wednesday night.

Chelsea stunned London neighbours West Ham at Kingsmeadow by hitting four goals by the interval with Pernille Harder scoring two and Sophie Ingle and Bethany England also finding the target.

Although the damage was already done by half-time, Chelsea continued to run riot as Fran Kirby fired home and Harder added her third to register her first ever Chelsea hat-trick with minutes left on the clock.

Upon reaching the final, which is due to be played at Vicarage Road on Sunday 14 March, Hayes said: ‘I’m really pleased, getting to finals is no easy achievement and the preparation of the team to keep finding new levels in themselves is a real testament to the work that is put in day in day out from everyone in this environment.

‘To dispatch a very good team in the manner that we did with five chances and four goals in the first half is reflective of the confidence that’s in the camp at the moment.

‘They are hungry, everybody is hungry for trophies and we know it’s ours to lose because of the fact we’re holders of the competition and we’re really looking forward to being back in another final.

‘I’m really looking forward to a brilliant stadium and another showcase opportunity for women’s football.’
 

Hayes praised Harder’s efforts yesterday, while highlighting the Denmark international's development since joining the Blues at the start of the season.

‘I’ve been conscious of the drop off from the team in our regains in the counter presses and that’s an area that Pernille had to work at but in this game I saw what I was looking for from her.

‘That aggression in that area and her work rate is second to none and she’s starting to find and build relationships in the team which was always going to take time.

‘She had a good game at the weekend but this was her best game in a Chelsea shirt.'

While Chelsea have a reputation for being a formidable force to be reckoned with, the Blues boss insists it has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from her staff and players to reach this point.

‘I keep reminding myself the hours we put into training and applying the growth of the team and I’m talking about thousands of hours to get to this point, it didn’t just happen, we didn’t just arrive.

‘We’ve added little pieces along the way and you can see that the team is really coming together. I made a couple of adjustments again in this game, looked for some different insights tactically from the team and they just apply it.

‘I’m so impressed by my players, I’m so impressed by the collective and the hunger, the will, the ambition.

‘I’ve been here nine years and the fact they are still doing that for me and the football club, I won’t take any of it for granted.’

Hayes also took the time to clear up further reports in the media, linking her to the AFC Wimbledon job, insisting that she is happy as the manager of Chelsea FC Women.

‘I’ve never spoken to Wimbledon and I’ve never been offered a job by Wimbledon. The whole question that was asked about me is about my own team and let me be clear about this.

‘My words were this: It is not a step down to coach Chelsea Women’s team, it’s an insult to suggest otherwise but watching the reaction across the media in the last 24 hours manipulating my words, turning headlines and using inflammatory language to infer that I’ve insulted AFC Wimbledon, far from it.

‘What a wonderful club they are, they are local to our community and one that’s dear to everybody’s hearts at Chelsea, so to infer that I’ve insulted them is a misrepresentation across the media and that needs to be made clear.

‘I sincerely hope that AFC Wimbledon find the right candidate for their football club and the whole point about them not being able to afford me is nothing to do with money but everything to do with the fact I’m in the best job in the world and no amount of money is going to tempt me away from that.

‘We talk of women in football like we are not entitled to the same opportunity and the same access and my final piece on it is that all I want is to normalise the conversation on it so if the entire universe is talking about it then hallelujah, let’s make sure we have it more often and let’s make sure we talk about it without feeling unbelievably threatened that everybody has a place in football.’

Chelsea next take on Brighton & Hove Albion in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Sunday. The match kicks off at 2pm at Kingsmeadow and will be available to watch live on the 5th Stand app, the Chelsea website, Chelsea FC Women’s Facebook page and club YouTube channel. Please note geographical restrictions may apply.

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