Hayes: The players deserve every bit of credit they’ve gained this year

Chelsea Women booked our place in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory over Everton and Emma Hayes is delighted with the response from her players.

Chelsea went into Thursday’s fifth-round clash with the Toffees having lost the Champions League final four days earlier, but the Blues responded with a clinical performance against the Toffees.

Goals from Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr and Drew Spence helped to secure a 3-0 win in our final outing of the campaign and Blues boss Hayes is proud with how her players bounced back after Sunday’s disappointment.

She said: ‘What a great group. Sunday hurt and we didn’t hide that. There is really no shame from having a silver medal from a Champions League final. I don’t know too many players that have it, especially teams from this country.

‘It’s a beautiful memory and it’s a stark reminder that to go from silver to gold you have to find something else within yourselves. That’s the challenge.

‘When we came to the game, I wanted to see Chelsea Women at its best and that no matter who I pick, I can get a performance like I do. A fabulous achievement from the players, they deserve every bit of credit they’ve gained this year.

‘I’m really proud of everyone involved and pleased to see that we are through to the next round because this is a competition we want to win.’

The Blues will now go on a break, with some players due to take part in the Olympics before pre-season training starts in July and Hayes believes the experiences gained from this season will help raise the standards even higher going into the 2021/22 campaign.

She added: ‘I’ve always said why I am in this job, raising the bar is always the objective. It doesn’t mean you are always going to win all the time, but plateauing is something you have to consider how you get out of that state all of the time. That’s something I’ve worked hard on in my career to find the solutions for those things.

‘As much as I want to win the Champions League, I know to win the biggest prizes, it’s come down to margins. I’m pretty certain, if we played Barcelona 10 times, the score line wouldn’t be the same.

‘What you have to learn is how you manage the biggest moments and that’s what we are learning. From a 21-year-old full-back, a 24-year-old other full-back and first experiences in that final even for the likes of Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr.

‘That inexperience showed in the key moments in the game but we’ve got that experience now so it’s important the players go away, play in the Olympics and those that come back for pre-season, they maintain the motivation and the hunger to get to the next level because if you want to get back to that place you have to do something you haven’t done.’

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