Emma Hayes: A ‘maverick’ with an eye on the details

After watching her Chelsea team come from behind at Kingsmeadow to beat Brighton on Sunday, Emma Hayes began her press conference by listing an array of key statistics from the match.

Her attention to detail is nothing new. Hayes often refers to the numbers as she discusses her opinion on the team’s performance.

Of the match, she said: “We had 4.22 XG [expected goals] for and 0.55 against. An 18% conversion rate with 26 chances created and seven on target.”

Rather than reeling off any managerial cliches, Hayes chooses to express her honest viewpoint on a topic with genuine consideration for the question asked.

On Sunday, she was critical of the stats that her team had produced even though her side had just picked up their third win in four games this season.

“We have the highest XG in the league, with the eighth-best conversion. The team knew I wanted to focus on converting… so that’s the work we have to do.”

The meticulousness of her analysis is something that has epitomised the 12 years that she has managed at Chelsea so far.

She has led the Blues to six Women’s Super League (WSL) titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups, whilst also reaching the Champions League final in 2021.

Credit: Manjit Narotra/Pro Sports/Shutterstock

Her success is undeniable, but along with being a perfectionist, her ability to understand people has been another key reason behind her achievements.

Speaking to Sky Sports for the documentary named Secrets of Success, Hayes spoke about how she deals with the different personalities of players.

“Within a team, every individual is different. I don’t want everyone to be the same, but I want them to understand boundaries.”

She also does not believe in the process of fining players for being late to training, which is a system widely used in football.

“Sometimes someone’s coming in and they’ve had a really bad morning. They might have needed an extra ten minutes.

“I will treat every situation separately, but I will always remind them of the core values.”

Hayes also spoke to BBC Women’s Hour about understanding her role as a facilitator of the team.

“Certain players require certain things, and I might have an assistant who’s better equipped to deal with that, whereas I might be better off dealing with other players.

“It’s so critical getting to know who your people are. In order to get the best out of the team it requires many different people.”

Hayes has created a culture that demands constant success, balancing this intense environment with a strong focus on the welfare of the individuals within the squad.

This has certainly been a factor in her longevity in the game and is one of the reasons why she was named Best FIFA women’s coach at The Best FIFA Football Awards in January.

She has been an ever-present figure at a club that is renowned for its managerial instability on the men’s side, which is a testament to the work she has done.

Hayes has also been a big advocate for women’s football and has been involved in the game’s rapid progression in the last decade.

In the last few years, she has been linked with managerial jobs in the men’s game, which is something that she has openly said is disrespectful towards women’s football.

“I think the football world needs to wake up and recognise that, while the game is played by a different gender, it is exactly the same sport.”

“The constant questioning surrounding when I’m going into the men’s game…I already coach elite players.”

Hayes believes in continuing the rapid growth of the women’s game, which she has been recognised for by being awarded an OBE for services to football in June 2022.

The recent women’s World Cup final between England and Spain was watched by 12 million viewers on BBC One, a Women’s World Cup record that signified the game’s development.

Nearly 7,000 people have watched Chelsea’s last two matches at Kingsmeadow, and double that number saw them beat Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season.

Born in Camden, Hayes has referred to herself as a bit of a maverick figure.

She isn’t afraid to show her personality, which is what contributes to the charismatic, genuine character that the public see.

Hayes ended her press conference on Sunday with a serious message about wanting to see her team improve whilst acknowledging that it is the start of a long season.

However, she did still have time to leave the press room with a joke about how she knew she needed to help everyone fill their columns, which prompted laughter from all in attendance.

Despite having a relentless demand for success, she is someone that knows how the football world works and is not afraid to show her true personality.  

She has already secured her legendary status at Chelsea, and her desire to stay at the top has not waned as The Blues look to continue to break more records this season.

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