Emma Hayes is always positive but quick to explain why a certain result happens, and the Blues’ 5-2 defeat at the hands of French outfit Montpellier in the Women’s French Cup in Colomiers, Toulouse is a perfect case in point.
A sweet strike by Guro Reiten and a late penalty from Maren Mjelde gave the game a semblance of respectability.
Hayes is unwavering in her belief that the result is not important. She said: “It’s our first game. They have probably had three weeks more preparation than us.
You could see it physically. They were sharper, fitter, and quicker at this stage.
“We also had players just back from the World Cup, so the result is irrelevant - we don’t chase fast fitness, otherwise our players would be doing post-match runs like the Montpellier players are doing. For us we build gradually.”
Hayes and the players are targeting winning the WSL 1 title back from north London rivals Arsenal this season. And without the added pressure and games of the Champions League to contend with, they are fully focused on the start of the league campaign. To emphasise the point she said:
“It’s September 8 that’s important for us (first League game against Spurs) not August 6.”
Hayes made six changes in one go in the second half when already 5-1 down, was that a tactical or fitness decision?
She said: “We played those (players) from the start who had trained the longest - so they could stay out longer, but the heat was excruciating. We are not used to training in such warm temperatures. We struggled to breathe for the first 30 minutes. The fact is a lot of those players had not being regular starters, I saw a lack of confidence set in. But if you look at it, the second half was 1-1. The result, although I don't like to lose 5-2 was not our priority, it’s about preparing for the Spurs match.”
Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger made a horror pass to the opposition after just four minutes resulting in the Blues going 1-0 down.
Again Hayes is unperturbed by it.
She said: If we want to win games, have easy games, I’d stay at home and play teams from the Championship.
“The decision to come to France and play without a lot of training behind us is to see where we are at and to keep improving on that. If you have perfection before you are entirely happy, then the players think, ‘Oh, this is easy.’ We want the opposite, we want it to be difficult and we want it to be hard. I’m sure that will be the case come the second game (which the Blues play tonight against Bayern Munich).
“These players have only had three weeks recovery, it’s important we don't build them up too quickly and for those who came in for the last part off the game, they looked good, they have only been training four days. But we must make sure we don't injure them, that’s the important part.”
Skipper Karen Carney has retired from football, leaving a gap open for the armband to be snatched up. Hayes is keeping any potential hopeful on their toes.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” she said. “I think I will make my decision at the end of pre-season.”
Hayes was very pleased with new signing - Norway’s Guro Reiten.
“It was a brilliant finish for her goal, to mark her debut,” said Hayes.
“She has got quality in front of goal. I’m also happy for Charlotte Fleming, 17, too on her debut.”
There was a small but vocally supportive group of 14 Chelsea fans who made the trip to Toulouse in southern France, and Hayes is always ready to give praise when it’s deserved, and she said of those dedicated fans: “They are the best. They travel long and far. They’re are coming to watch their team prepare in pre-season and they can see that we are far away from what we should look like come the start of the season.”
As a treat for them, yesterday, Hayes opened up a normally closed training session for those fans to go along and see the players prepare for tonight’s Bayern Munich game.