Chelsea manager Emma Hayes believes her side’s Women’s Community Shield victory over Manchester City is testament to the major building process that has gone on at the club during her time in charge.
Millie Bright’s stunner put the Women’s Super League champions on course for a victory that was wrapped up by substitute Erin Cuthbert’s emphatic stoppage-time finish.
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The 2-0 success at Wembley on Saturday saw Chelsea become the first team to win the Women’s Community Shield since 2008.
Hayes said: “You have to remember I’ve been here nine years. This hasn’t just happened, I haven’t just assembled a team overnight.
“This has taken some time to build a quality team, and I am so lucky to be given the chance to manage at Chelsea and be given the trust by the club to build players that have stuck with me.”
Despite the momentous victory, Hayes did admit that it was a real shame for the fixture to be played out in front of empty stands at England’s national stadium.
Hayes said: “It’s a great testament to the FA for putting this fixture on. You’ve got two wonderful teams at Wembley.
“It’s such a shame there wasn’t a crowd today because you saw from the quality on show that these are two outstanding sides.
“I think it was a great way to start the season and hopefully the broadcasting numbers confirm that.
“Today was for the fans because when you’ve got a group of people that follow you up and down the country, and it’s a growing group, I’m gutted for them that they couldn’t be there today.”
Kerr not lacking confidence
Bright’s thumping effort came shortly after City midfielder Jill Scott was sent off for two bookable offences and saved the blushes of star striker Sam Kerr, who missed an array of good opportunities.
Asked if the Australia international is looking for confidence after her move to Chelsea, Hayes said: “I don’t think so. I think Sam ran well for the team today. She caused problems, she created chances.
“I think if you have got a striker who isn’t creating chances, that’s a concern. I think Sam has been outstanding in pre-season and I expect she’ll be on the training pitch tomorrow working at finishing. But I’m not disappointed with anything in her game today.”
Hayes expecting ‘huge battles’ to come
The Chelsea boss insists that although the victory could have been by more than two goals on the day, Manchester City will pose a formidable threat in the race for the WSL title in the new season.
Chelsea were one point behind City before the coronavirus pandemic and were eventually crowned champions on a points-per-game ratio, having played a game less than their rivals.
Gareth Taylor’s side have added a number of key additions to their squad in the transfer window, including American World Cup winner Rose Lavelle.
Hayes said: “I think City have a clear recruitment plan in place that by the time we play them the next time, their team will be even stronger than it was today.
“We can’t get carried away. We’ve won today, yes we’ve missed a number of chances in front of goal but I thought the performance was good from the team and I think we showed an evolution already from last season.
“There will be huge battles ahead facing Man City this year.”
Taylor: Scott sending off proved decisive
Manchester City counterpart Taylor, in his first match as women’s team manager, felt Scott’s dismissal was the decisive moment.
“It was definitely the game-changer,” he said. “It took me by surprise in all honesty because I didn’t think there was much in it.
“I probably need to see need it again on a few occasions but obviously then it’s going to be a little bit difficult because I thought until that point, it was quite a close game.
“Both teams had some good opportunities but that’s obviously going to make an impact.”
Taylor described playing at Wembley in front of no fans as a strange experience for his players, but one which could benefit his young side.
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