Triumphant Hayes ‘reinvigorated’ for USWNT role

Emma Hayes said she is “reinvigorated and re-energised” by the prospect of her new role as head coach of the United States women’s national team after winning the Women’s Super League (WSL) for the seventh time in her final game as Chelsea manager.

Chelsea’s emphatic 6-0 victory over Manchester United secured their fifth consecutive WSL trophy and marked the end of Hayes’ 12-year reign at the west London club.

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Her tenure at USWNT will begin with a friendly doubleheader against South Korea at the start of June before heading into the Olympics later in the summer.

“It’s not tiring thinking about going to an Olympics, is it? It’s different, a different energy. I’ll feel reinvigorated and re-energised with something else,” she told a news conference Saturday. “Sometimes people think you need a rest. Sometimes you just need a change.

“So, Monday, I have to speak to a handful of players and staff, as I have been doing in the background anyway, Tuesday I’m on a leadership call with U.S. leadership and on Wednesday, I fly to New York. Pressers Thursday, in Denver Friday to meet with the staff, and get prepared for the team to arrive on Monday. And listen, they deserve my full attention and they will get that from me.

“Those preparations have been put in place in the background, so yeah. I’m having one night. Tonight and [6-year-old son] Harry’s birthday party tomorrow. That’s all I need. I’ll be ready to go [on] Monday morning.”

When she initially announced her departure in November, Hayes cited wanting more time with her family, especially Harry. Moving to the U.S. means a far less hefty schedule, permitting her more family time and the chance for a quieter life, something she stated she cannot wait for.

“It’s taken its toll on me rather than change me,” she said of her now-former job. “I categorically cannot carry on, so I am absolutely leaving at the right time. I don’t have another drop to give.

“There’s so much to the job, not just this, it’s dealing with people, when you deal with people, I set such high standards for myself, but maintaining that has become impossible. I can’t keep up with the demands from players on a daily basis, in terms of their emotional needs, in terms of everything, and I found that to be gruelling this year, to be honest with you.”

It has been a turbulent season for Hayes, who almost faced walking away from her final season in charge of Chelsea without a trophy after losing the Conti Cup final to Arsenal, crashing out of the FA Cup in the semifinal and falling short against Barcelona to reach the Champions League final.

This, along with the injuries the team has faced including long-term injuries to Sam Kerr, Millie Bright and Mia Fishel, has made this trophy all the more special.

“I think it did take its toll, plus the transitioning of new players, young players and you know, the diminishing role of some of the senior players,” she said.

“But that’s why for me this is the best title, because we’re not stupid, we know we weren’t at our best. But for us to win a title, wow, like I’m sorry, I don’t think you guys realise how hard it is to win and win and win and win, some of these teams don’t change their teams or they’re in the peak of their eras and they play a game a week.

“I almost can’t believe we’ve won the title. Can’t believe it. Two games to go in the title, we’ve got a 19-year-old on the right-hand wing in Maika Hamano, and Aggie [Beever-Jones] is 20. No one talks about that enough. It’s not Sam Kerr. I respect that City have lost Bunny Shaw. Look what we lost this year, and when you watch Millie Bright’s performance today, she’s had to play the last three games, and we all know she hasn’t been at 100 percent, but what a leader.”

However, Hayes stated that the door is never fully closed and she could potentially return to the club, just not as a coach.

“If I were to ever be around club football again, I don’t suspect it will be in coaching. But when my tenure is done with the United States, if Chelsea ever need me, they know what my number is.”

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