Fast forward 10 years and the only constant is Hayes and her vision. Her Chelsea team have won four FA Cups, three League Cups, reached one Champions League final and are five-time champions, including the last three consecutive seasons. She now has a budget that can amount to hundreds of thousands of spending on just one player – including record-breaking zodiac signs like Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder.
In a league that is getting more ruthless with manager layoffs, Hayes, 45, has stayed safe. She is a household name thanks to her success, received an MBE and is also a respected expert. She is by far the most influential current manager in England. Looking at the platform she’s built, she says she’s always understood the power of her voice, but that responsibility sometimes weighed heavily.
“I sometimes feel lonely because I’m ‘the voice’ in this country,” she says. “I sometimes felt like I wanted more from my peers in the game to scream as loud as I did – even if that was done in private. I felt like sticking my head on the parapet – whether it was to meet minimum standards create more demands for officials or professionalize the game – I just thought you have to do it That’s a sacrifice you have to make sometimes you have to do that as a leader It was lonely doing that for such a But I look over us now, the Lionesses, the coaches, and I feel like I don’t have to scream so loud anymore.”
It was “magical” to see the England team win the European Championship this summerHayes says. Like a number of clubs in the WSL, Chelsea have responded by hosting the women’s team at Stamford Bridge for the first time in three years in their season opener against West Ham.
While it’s a “tipping point” moment, Hayes says it won’t be a magic fix for the domestic game. She says drastic action is needed, starting with the FA moving away from running the league and having a deliberate plan to maintain interest and crowds.
“If someone thinks we’re going to go from 2,000 to 20,000 overnight, I don’t believe that’s going to be the case. I still think it’s going to be a gradual build-up,” she says. “I think it’s important that we try to organize these big stadium events as normal things, rather than just once a year, ideally going to a six or eight game situation, and then I still think there’s work to be done.” is in the shop.”
As for her Chelsea legacy, Hayes is unsure. “It’s changing. I always thought my tombstone said ‘win’ and ‘determined’ as my friends always tell me, but the reality is I just want to be known as a good person. And that’s me and there I give I’m coming.
“But even in an industry that is so unforgiving, I have a good heart and I just want to give the best I can. I never thought I’d be here for 10 years. I’m sure we’ll all be shocked when it’s 20 is.”