Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was left ‘purring’ with pride as a ‘champion-like’ performance saw us brush aside Arsenal to win the Women’s FA Cup and complete the domestic treble for last season.
‘If it had been three or four nil at half-time nobody would have been surprised. We should have had more goals and then it would have been even more convincing,’ Hayes said.
‘It was dominant, it was dogged when it needed to be and tactically we got it spot on. We dealt with the threat really well and kept a clean sheet.
‘It’s a proud day as the manager of Chelsea. I represent a club of people, backroom staff, players, owner and board, who are united in the teams we want to build. We painted Wembley blue!’
‘We were like a machine.'
The Gunners did not manage a shot on target throughout and Hayes said her players executed the game plan brilliantly.
‘We were like a machine,’ she said. ‘Everything about us, we just purred from start to finish. Real credit must go, not just to the players, but to the backroom staff as well.
‘I saw it coming because I see the standards we set every day and we showed our qualities.
‘I really didn’t believe there would be anther outcome. The confidence and calm nature in our dressing room was unbelievable before the game.
‘The second goal was critical to calm any anxiety that existed. But I don’t think my team played like that. Everything they did was with precision, was decisive, was collective, coherent and champion-like. I think we are getting better – I really do.’
Chelsea director Marina Gravovskaia was quick to join in the post-game celebrations, while owner Roman Abramovich was also impressed.
‘We have been with Marina in the dressing room,’ Hayes added. ‘She said it was the best she has ever seen us play, she can see the team improving. And he [Abramovich] has sent his congratulations. I know he is an avid fan and I know he really enjoyed the performance.’
Chelsea’s twin terrors
Kirby’s typically composed one-on-one finish set the tone for a near flawless display and two fine Kerr efforts, the second a sublime chip on the run, ensured a healthy winning margin.
‘In Fran and Sam, what more can I say? They were amazing,’ Hayes said of her fearsome front duo. ‘That pairing terrorises defenders.
‘I thought that was Fran’s best game in a Chelsea shirt; she ran the show, she got on the ball in dangerous situations, she threaded the ball through for Sam on numerous occasions and was a real threat and a handful throughout.
‘She delivered above and beyond. She is a national treasure so look after her. Fran is at her best when she plays off a striker and is able to float in those key areas. Everything she did was so dynamic. I felt every time she went forward she was going to score.
‘She has a maturity in her game. She has played in every big game and for that reason she has a confidence to deliver again and again and again.
‘So many people wondered how Sam would cope in the English game but, as far as I am concerned, she is the best striker in the world and she displayed that when it really mattered.
‘She is courageous and full of confidence. She is a superb athlete, an amazing human and they are two of many, many characters in that dressing room that are noteworthy for their performances. Champions don’t make excuses; Sam takes responsibility, she is in control. There is no way she was going to be on the losing team. We are extremely lucky to have her at this club.’
But it wasn’t just Kirby and Kerr who caught the eye of the Chelsea manager.
Versatile Scotland forward Erin Cuthbert excelled in both defence and attack as a wing-back, Jess Carter played a key role in the back three and Sophie Ingle and Melanie Leupolz provided solidity, energy and quality in central midfield.
‘If Erin puts her hand to anything, she achieves it to an unbelievable level,’ Hayes added. ‘She goes beyond just being a team player, her contributions are so under-rated.
‘People like Erin are the reason why we are what we are and she deserves credit, but so do all of them.
‘Jess, in the second half, was absolutely superb. In her one-v-one moments, her decision-making when to come in and when to step off was just brilliant and she really deserves the credit for the growth in her game. The back five were tremendous.
‘Sophie and Melanie had a very specific job to do, which they did superbly which made it easier for the back five.’
Hayes, who has been in charge of Chelsea since 2012, said completing the domestic clean sweep for 2021 – and making it a quadruple by winning the Community Shield too – is her biggest managerial achievement.
‘Setbacks like losing the Champions League final and winning like we have over the years I have been here – that experience really counts and we used it to full effect.
‘I felt so calm. Experienced mattered across the board.’