There are few individuals in the world of football who are as challenging to follow as Emma Hayes. The next person to take on the role of manager for Chelsea Women will have a lot to live up to. Many managers are brought in when a team is struggling and they must work to improve it, so joining a team that is already successful is a daunting task.
The past has demonstrated the difficulty of replacing renowned managers. After 10 years of winning numerous trophies, Vic Akers departed from Arsenal Women in 1997. However, his replacement only lasted one season before Akers was reinstated. He continued to lead the club for another decade with great success. In my opinion, Arsenal was not the same without him. Presently, the club is making efforts to regain their position at the top, but it is a formidable challenge.
After Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Manchester United has experienced a turbulent time with numerous changes in management but has failed to achieve the same level of success. Despite hiring top coaches, none have been able to replicate Ferguson’s accomplishments. Similarly, when Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger was replaced by Unai Emery, it was not a successful move. Emery, who is currently excelling at Aston Villa, illustrates the challenges of taking over a club with a long-established way of doing things.
The chance to lead one of the top teams in the world at Chelsea may seem appealing, but the next manager will have a lot to consider. With high expectations and little room for mistakes, they must approach the opportunity with a positive mindset and aim to continue Chelsea’s success. It’s important not to worry about replicating what Hayes has achieved, but instead focus on moving the club forward. The chosen candidate will inherit a well-functioning women’s team thanks to Hayes’ efforts in building a strong foundation.
Was I shocked by the announcement about Hayes? Most likely not. I am aware that she is a highly driven individual who enjoys taking on new challenges, and it’s possible that she is seeking one after experiencing years of success at Chelsea. I am disappointed that she will no longer be managing in the Women’s Super League, as I believe she is a fantastic representative, but a part of me also sees the potential for increased competition now that Chelsea’s dominance under Hayes’s leadership has come to an end. She has brought a certain aura to Chelsea, and it will be intriguing to see if they can uphold it after her departure.
In her 11 years as the leader, Hayes has established stability. It is challenging to find someone who can maintain the same momentum when the most crucial member of a club departs.
Hayes’ main focus was to ensure that Chelsea would remain competitive in the future. The recruitment process at the club typically takes around two years, from identifying potential players to actually signing them. This means that players who could potentially join the team in 2025-26 are already being scouted and evaluated, as the club takes thorough measures to ensure they are the best fit for the team.
Managers are defined not only by their success but by the state they leave a club in. Hayes is always looking to the future and her transfer dealings were focused on young players with great potential. Seven of this summer’s recruits were under the age of 25, adding to the talented youth in a squad that includes Lauren James, Aggie Beever-Jones and Erin Cuthbert.
The new manager may choose to introduce some of their own team members, but they will be joining an already dynamic squad in the global game. Any adjustments they make will not be a complete reversal of the current system, and they will have ample time during pre-season to incorporate their strategies.
In the near future, it will be intriguing to observe the team’s response to Hayes’s announcement of her departure. I witnessed their 6-0 victory over Aston Villa this weekend and it was the most impressive performance I have seen from them. While joining a prestigious club like Chelsea may be a key factor, many of those players were likely drawn to the manager as well.
Hayes’ departure introduces a new element of instability and unpredictability for the women’s team, something they have not experienced in a long time. If Chelsea were to not win a fifth consecutive title, it would make it easier for her successor to come in with the goal of reclaiming the top spot instead of maintaining it. However, Hayes likely wants to leave on a positive note. It is always a challenge to stay at the top in any industry, and she has managed to do so for many years. She will surely not want to see a decline in standards in her final months at the club.
Hayes has been the standard in England, but it does not matter if she is substituted by a male or female – what matters is finding the most suitable candidate for the position. I am confident that there will be several prominent individuals considered for the role in the upcoming months.
The person entering must have the correct qualifications, but more importantly, they must have the right mindset. Hayes has done an outstanding job and her impact will be long-lasting. The future manager of Chelsea must be willing to take on the challenge; they should not be intimidated by a cabinet full of trophies, but instead use it as motivation.