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Now Emma’s gunning for a Euro title

Camden-born manager of Chelsea Ladies sees her side crowned Women’s Super League One Spring Series champions

08 June, 2017 — By Catherine Etoe

Emma Hayes celebrates with goalkeeper Fran Kitching. PHOTO: THE FA VIA GETTY IMAGES

FORMER Parliament Hill School pupil Emma Hayes has set her sights on a European title after seeing her Chelsea Ladies side crowned champions of the FA’s Women’s Super League One Spring Series at the weekend.

Camden-born Hayes, who holds the elite UEFA Pro-Licence and has coached professionally in the USA, already has a European Cup winners’ medal from her time as assistant coach with Arsenal Ladies in 2007.

Since taking over as manager at Chelsea in 2012, the 40-year-old has led the Blues to two league titles, two runners-up berths and an FA Women’s Cup final victory at Wembley – but has yet to crack Europe.

Now, with a settled core bolstered by recent big name signings including Ramona “Swiss Magician” Bachman, Norway star Maren Mjelde and USA international Crystal Dunn, Hayes believes that her top squad is within touching distance of Europe’s elite.

“There is no doubt this is the best Chelsea team that I’ve had,” she told the New Journal. “We’re not that far away from challenging on a European stage now.

Chelsea win another accolade courtesy of their Camden connection – manager Emma Hayes, who grew up in Camden Town, and head coach of the club’s ladies’ elite development programme TJ O’Leary, who grew up in Maitland Park, are united in victory. They’re standing together on the far right. PHOTO: THE FA VIA GETTY IMAGES

“I’m excited because this group really has the potential to kick on again, because they work hard and want it.”

The Blues had to work for their Spring Series title as four clubs were in with a chance of victory on a nail-biting final day of action in the one-off competition, set up ahead of the WSL’s switch from a summer to winter format.

Chelsea held their nerve to beat Birmingham City 2-0 away on Saturday and take the series on goal-difference.

They racked up a tally of 32 goals for and just three against that proved too much for their nearest rivals Manchester City, with Arsenal finishing a point behind in third.

The victory was sweet revenge for Hayes. Her 2015 double-winners finished last season empty-handed, with Man City snatching their WSL One crown and Arsenal taking their FA Cup title.

Chelsea lost out in the FA Cup semi-final to Birmingham this April, but Hayes says her players have emerged stronger and, despite introducing new faces and experimenting with different formations, winning the Spring Series gives her great hope for the future.

“I’d feel more confident going into any game against the top European teams now knowing that the team has been through an awful lot together, good and bad,” said Hayes, who grew up playing football on the Curnock Street estate in Camden Town.

“I think we have barely scratched the surface of our potential.”

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