Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has conceded that her charges won’t qualify for next season’s Champions League barring a miracle, and doesn’t feel her position is under threat.
On the men’s side, failure to qualify for the top European competition has resulted in the manager getting the sack. That’s not something she feels is the case on the women’s side.
She said after today’s 3-0 win against Everton, that keeps the west Londoners in third place on goal difference in the WSL1: “I’ve won five trophies since I’ve been here.
“I doubt that I’m under pressure for not qualifying for the Champions League knowing that teams like Arsenal haven’t won a league in six years. It’s not going to be in their hands every season, but is our team improving? Absolutely, but so is the opposition. Our record may end up being better than the season before, but the bar has been raised elsewhere. The slow start (to the season) has put us in this position, and all we can focus on now is the next game.”
And she is fully prepared to take responsibility for that slow start.
“Well, blame me,” she said. “I had a baby and we didn’t start well. I take responsibility for that. But at the same time, my team have conceded five goals in one game, the entire season (against Arsenal), we have a fantastic record, we might go on unbeaten for the remainder of the season and not qualify for the Champions League, that’s the way it is I’m afraid.
“I genuinely don't get frustrated with things I can’t control,
I can’t wind the clock back, I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is get the team to be at their best until the end, and that’s what I’m doing.”
As a consequence of their league position, Hayes is concentrating on the upcoming cup competitions.
On Wednesday, Chelsea face Reading in the quarter-final of the Continental Tyres Cup, while they face Paris St-Germain in March in the Champions League quarter-finals. The FA Cup is also on their agenda as they are holders.
She said: “The league, for me is something I cannot control, I can’t claw back that difference unless there is a miracle - it’s for Arsenal to lose the title and for us, if we can get in the way of that and upset that, then great we will do that.”
Chelsea face runaway leaders Arsenal on Sunday in the league, and is she seeking revenge?
“No, I’ve been in Arsenal’s position, so I know what it’s like to lead,” she said.
“The expectations when you are in the driving seat, I’m sure they are aware of that and what goes on with that. For us, the chances of us winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League, is minuscule. So the pressure isn't on us. We’ve already made that difficult, based on the early part of the season. So long as we keep improving our performance, the concentration for us is the cup competitions.”