Emma Hayes has spoken of her pride at the way her side have coped with her absence while also explaining how she’s learned more about her players during a period away from the game.
The Blues head coach makes her return to the Chelsea dugout for today’s sell-out WSL London derby against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, having recently taken some time away from work after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy procedure following a long battle with endometriosis.
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During that period, the 46-year-old has viewed games from home and feels watching on from a different vantage point has helped her appreciate the work of her players and her staff.
The head coach was left in no mind that she has a dressing room full of leaders.
‘I’ve been watching us in a different way to usual in recent weeks and it’s been good fun!’ Hayes said.
‘I loved the PSG game, just for the experience of it being a tough place to go and with a bit more confidence we probably could have done a little bit more.
‘Brighton has always been a tricky game for us, we had a lot of rotation and we managed that a lot better than we had done in previous years.
‘Aston Villa have been a tricky side for us but Lauren [James] really dominated that game for us which was pleasing. Vllaznia at home in the Champions League, I loved us in that one – a marvellous performance.
‘Then it was Man United where we showed our experience in that one, particularly in the second half.
‘I see a lot of experience in our side but I still feel we’ve got areas to improve and work on. I’ve got three sets of players ready to go through clips with me on things I’ve highlighted, which I doubt I’d have spotted if I was on the touchline, so that’s been good.
While Hayes has been away, she has delegated responsibility down to her coaches Paul Green and Denise Reddy who have lead the team admirably in her absence.
The head coach had nothing but praise for the work of the duo when speaking ahead of today’s sell-out WSL clash with Spurs at Stamford Bridge, but also acknowledge the impact of the players for the way they have stepped up themselves.
That’s something that does not surprise Hayes, given how close-knit the group is and how a strong environment has been developed over the past few years.
‘I knew what the team would do [in her absence] and it’s of no surprise to me how the environment managed it.
‘This is no accident; it’s been developed by us all for a long period of time. I read somewhere the other day that we’ve had 12 national team captains in our group, which is unheard of.
‘Most importantly, they looked after each other and pushed one another in this period. For a leader, the biggest compliment you can get is what someone does in your absence.
‘The fact that our environment can lead itself, and yes Denise and Paul stepped up and I’m so grateful for that, shows just how strong we are here and highlights what we’ve built over a number of years here.’