Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said that she was disappointed with her side’s first half performance against Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
The Blues boss made six changes to the side that played against VfL Wolfsburg in midweek and was seen to have a negative effect on Chelsea’s first half performance.
With the ever-present telepathic relationship between strikers Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr, the South West Londoners eventually eased to a 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Villa.
Chelsea boss Hayes was unable to hide her frustrations at her side’s first half showing, stating in the post-match press conference in which FAWSL Full Time were present that she let her side know how furious she was at half-time.
“I was disappointed,” said Hayes. “For me, it was about the standards I uphold dearly, in terms of what you need to do to compete in football matches.
“I respect it’s difficult when you play an away game, comeback and you get a home game and you’re playing against a low block.
“They made it difficult for us but there’s certain fundamentals I demand from the group that I wasn’t happy with.
“Second half, they responded much better and we did what we had to do to get the result over the line but we’re going to have to improve.
“Certainly, if we’re going to retain our title and we’re going to have to certainly improve if we’re going to progress on Wednesday.”
The main reason for the first half slump could be blamed on the changes implemented but The Blues boss wasn’t allowing any excuses, reaffirming her beliefs in her entire team.
“This is a squad game, I don’t pick starting XIs, I pick the right teams depending on what games we play,” Hayes said.
“I have to figure out what the best XI is for Wednesday if we are going to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
After beating Reading yesterday, Manchester City leapfrogged Chelsea to take pole position in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League but The Blues soon returned to the top with victory over Villa. Hayes was asked how she felt about the pressure being applied by Gareth Taylor’s side.
“Nothing,” stated the Chelsea boss. “I don’t look at it for obvious reasons.
“You have to win every game if you’re going to win the title, you can’t afford to lose a couple of games a season.
“We will approach every single game to win it.”
The formidable partnership of forwards Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr again paid dividends for Chelsea with the pair having linked up for both goals with the latter scoring twice. Hayes was once again full of praise, saying “Everybody knows the pressure that both of those players were on, particular at the start of the year.
“The fact they’re going into every game looking like they’re going to score is a real testament to them both individually.
“Both of them are in the form of their lives and that combination is dynamite.”
Beth England has been unable to play since suffering a head injury against Atletico Madrid but Hayes provided a positive update on the player.
“She’s been cleared by the neurologist for Wednesday,” she said. “She been non-contact with the team, so from Wednesday she can be in contact.
“Understandably, she did take a big blow to the head, so it’s just taking a little bit of time.”
Before today’s fixture, Villa’s director of women’s football Eni Aluko stated that Hayes was a ‘relentless winner’. When asked by FAWSL Full-Time whether she agreed with the comments, Hayes joked “Bet she never called me that when I was chasing after her on the training pitch.”
“That’s interesting. Being a relentless winner isn’t a choice, this is what you have to be. It’s the only way you can compete on all fronts. I can’t change who I am and how I’ve built a career around high standards and demanding the most.
“My expectation for any team is that there’s a relentless pursuit of feeling like you’ve never accomplished something. As I’ve said to players all the time, just because you’ve accomplished something before doesn’t mean you will do in the future.”
“I’ve seen it too often with winning teams, they become comfortable and while I’m the manager that will never happen.”
Hayes will make sure that her side don’t relent as they return to Budapest to face VfL Wolfsburg in the second leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday. The Blues hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg.