Hayes: No time for sentimentality – Chelsea have a title to win

Emma Hayes has told her Chelsea squad there is no time for sentimentality ahead of her departure after they beat Bristol City 8-0 to reinvigorate their WSL title hopes.

Man City could have opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the table with a win over Arsenal, but they conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 and hand Chelsea a route back into the title race.

Chelsea, who have a game in hand on City, took full advantage by closing the gap on the leaders to three points and overturning their advantage on goal difference with their rout of Bristol City in Hayes’ final game at Kingsmeadow.

Emma Hayes delivered an emotional farewell speech at Kingsmeadow
Emma Hayes delivered an emotional farewell speech at Kingsmeadow

Hayes had a rallying call for her players and the fans in her farewell speech after the game, with Chelsea knowing a win at Tottenham on May 15 will send them top ahead of the final day.

“Let me be clear, it’s not f****** over,” Hayes, who is to become US women’s head coach when she leaves Chelsea, told Kingsmeadow.

“There’s no time for sentimentality, all works drinks are cancelled. There’s a title to be won.”

Guro Reiten celebrates after scoring Chelsea's first goal against Bristol City
Guro Reiten scored four goals for Chelsea against Bristol City

Hayes claimed the title race was over after Chelsea’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday, but after Sunday’s victory she praised her side for never losing hope that they could send her off in style.

“I’ve been here 12 years, but this group of players taught me something so special this week,” she said. “You never, ever give up and this is what it means to be Chelsea.

“So before I go, guess what, we need to win at Tottenham, so you better buy tickets. We need every one of you if we stand a chance of winning the title.”

Hayes on leaving Chelsea: I’m going through a lot

Emma Hayes with her son on the Kingsmeadow pitch
Emma Hayes with her son on the Kingsmeadow pitch

Hayes delivered an emotional speech at Kingsmeadow, which included a pre-recorded letter to the fans, as she said her final farewells at Chelsea’s home stadium after 12 years in charge.

Hayes says knowing her time at Chelsea is coming to an end has made this period difficult.

It’s emotional,” she told Sky Sports. “I’ve got a lot going on thinking about it. It’s tough. I’ve spent a third of my life doing this.

This has been my home, my family. My son’s been born here. I’ve experienced my dad dying in the last year. This is a club that has been my entire heart.

“It’s felt strange for me in the last couple of months, on a number of levels, but I am grateful. I look out tonight and see the fans and feel the love. I feel for the love for the team – and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

“These are my people, these are my community. I’d go to war for them. I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m grateful to have been given the honour to be the manager of this team.”

Hayes: We didn’t want to go out with a whimper

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Following her side’s 8-0 victory over Bristol City, Emma Hayes said that Chelsea didn’t want to go out of the WSL ‘on a whimper’

Chelsea have endured a tough couple of months, losing to Arsenal in the Conti Cup final and being eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona in controversial circumstances.

But her team recovered to produce a ruthless performance and pounce on City’s slip, putting them in a strong position in the title race with two games left of their season.

“We’ve had some disappointments, no question,” Hayes added. “The players wanted to make sure they put in the performance that was worthy of champions.

“We didn’t want to go out with a whimper. We wanted to make sure it was a game to remember for the fans.”

Asked if she could believe Chelsea were in this position considering where they started the day, Hayes said: “What’s the chances of that? If you’d told me Arsenal would beat City in the last four or five minutes and we’d win 8-0… what are the odds of that?

“I said to the players that our job was to be ready. Today was another opportunity for us to get closer to something that was slipping out of our grasp. I am so proud because everything Chelsea represents are days like today.”

Chelsea fixtures

May 15: Tottenham vs Chelsea, kick-off 7.15pm

May 18: Man Utd vs Chelsea, kick-off 3pm

Man City’s remaining fixture

May 18: Aston Villa vs Man City, kick-off 3pm

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