Emma Hayes reflects on Chelsea Women’s pre-season tour to France, including the two defeats to Montpellier and Bayern Munich in the Women’s French Cup.
The Blues set off to Toulouse, the south of France, at the beginning of the week for our first pre-season trip ahead of our 2019/20 domestic campaign.
We took part in the Women’s French Cup, a friendly pre-season tournament between Chelsea, Montpellier, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The Blues first faced Montpellier, and then Bayern Munich, both teams we have met previously.
It was a disappointing start to our pre-season campaign having lost 5-2 in the first game and 5-0 two days later. However, despite the high scorelines, Hayes has positives to take away from her team's performances.
‘The fact that we’ve progressed our fitness a bit further is the biggest positive to take from the trip,' she said.
‘I think it’s been an opportunity to get the group together, to bond through pre-season and reconnect after the World Cup. So it was a great learning experience from that perspective and we build this week going into our next game.'
Guro Reiten, our newest signing, found the net against Montpellier to register her first Chelsea goal, and her Norwegian team-mate, Maren Mjelde, got the second when she stepped up to covert from the spot in the final moments of the contest.
Chelsea signed Reiten ahead of the Women’s World Cup and Hayes is extremely impressed with the 25-year-old's performances thus far.
‘A good debut tournament for her, she showed her fitness is quite high on the back of being in season in Norway.
‘I thought there was a lot of positives in her play going forward, I think the more we work with her on the training pitch, the further she’ll progress. But so far a great start from her.’
Pre-season is a perfect opportunity to take a look at players who may not have had a lot of game time last season, as well as the chance to view Academy players who show promising signs of potential, and the Chelsea boss did exactly that.
Goalkeeper Emily Orman came along to the trip and Charlotte Fleming, a midfielder from Chelsea’s Academy, featured as a substitute in both games.
‘It’s extremely important to give opportunities to our young players and for the players that didn’t feature a lot last season,' Hayes noted. 'They get the opportunity to impress in pre-season, including those youngsters, we need to be able to do that in pre-season.
‘It’s not about winning games, it’s about getting ready for the season,’ she continued.
Despite the two results Hayes feels it’s still early days and insists her squad will be ready for our first game of the WSL season against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on September 8.
‘Of course we don’t want to concede that number of goals, but when we won the Double we played Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich at exactly the same time and lost by very similar scorelines.
‘You know, their seasons are much further ahead than ours, they kick-off at the weekend. From a physical perspective this is a mismatch, so the marker is to get ready for September 8, not for a pre-season game.’
The Blues’ next trip takes place next weekend where we travel to Tel-Aviv to face the Israeli women’s national team. The match is sponsored by Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich and the Israeli FA, and will be staged to celebrate women’s football and support further development of sport in the country.
The exceedingly hot conditions in southern France appeared to be a big factor in Chelsea’s defeats, and the Middle Eastern country will be very much the same temperature wise.
‘I think one thing about both this trip and the Israel trip is that the team is going to have to cope playing in very hot temperatures and that’s difficult for us to train in that type of climate, so that’s something we have to adjust to,’ added Hayes.
‘But going to Israel to play their national team is a wonderful opportunity and we’re very much looking forward to the trip.'