Emma Hayes has often been dubbed ‘the female Brian Clough’. Outspoken, fiercely competitive and, most importantly, successful.
When her Chelsea team beat Arsenal to win the Continental Cup at the City Ground last year, Hayes donned a green jacket as a tribute. Tomorrow, she can follow in his footsteps by winning in Europe. Clough though, never managed a quadruple.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes (above) has often been dubbed ‘the female Brian Clough’
That is what Hayes is aiming for after securing the WSL title and League Cup, with an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Everton to come after the Champions League final in Gothenburg.
It has been a nine-year project for Hayes, who took over at Chelsea when the club had barely been able to provide training kits for its women’s team.
Players had relied on the help of John Terry when their budget was cut in 2009, before Hayes arrived three years later. Much has changed since she told chairman Bruce Buck in 2013 that she could take the club to the Champions League final, if she was provided with the right resources. Eight years later, here they are.
People believe she is outspoken, fiercely competitive and incredibly successful like Clough
Hayes has won the WSL title and League Cup – now she is chasing Champions League glory
Chelsea have been at the forefront of the increasing investment by English teams and have continually broken transfer records — with Pernille Harder’s arrival from Wolfsburg for a reported £250,000 last summer surpassing the amount they paid for Fran Kirby in 2015. Hayes convinced Buck and former director of football Michael Emenalo to back her vision and they are now reaping the rewards.
‘We’re successful because even though we’re a large club, it’s small in terms of how everybody is well connected,’ Hayes said. ‘There’s not the distances between the hierarchies. It’s a very flat structure. You don’t have to talk to two, three, four or five people before you get to the top.
‘John Terry and Michael Emenalo have been part of that and Bruce has been hugely influential. He deserves huge credit for the work he’s done in women’s football because all of that goes unseen.
Players had relied on the help of John Terry (above) when their budget was cut in 2009
However, this changed when Hayes told Blues chairman Bruce Buck (above) that she could take the club to the Champions League final, if she was provided with the right resources
‘John would always be asking how he could help. He was a big supporter of the women’s side and someone who as the captain did an amazing job in making you feel a part of the club.’
Although this will be Hayes’ first European final as a manager, she was assistant to Vic Akers when Arsenal became the only English team to win the competition in 2007.
Akers told Sportsmail: ‘We’ve been close allies for a long time and I’ve always said to her, “If I want anyone to do it, I want you to do it!”’
Hayes had success as manager of American clubs Long Island Riders and Iona College before joining Akers’ coaching staff in 2006. She returned to the States in 2008 for a brief spell with Chicago Red Stars before landing the Chelsea job in 2012.
Hayes says her Chelsea team are so successful because ‘everybody is well connected’
Akers said: ‘She’s been successful wherever she’s gone and is probably the best women’s coach in the country if not the world.’
Much like Clough at Forest, Hayes has built a team of winners. Her straight-talking is admired, as is her desire to be the best.
‘I know it probably shouldn’t be but being a winner is what drives me,’ Hayes said.
‘I’ve always wanted to blow the sport up so I’m proud to say I’ve played my part in doing that.’