Chelsea were minutes away from winning the WSL title again on Sunday, but Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Arsenal and Lucia Garcia’s winner in the Manchester derby meant the rollercoaster race at the top will go down to the final weekend. Chelsea still have it in their hands though, and if they equal United’s result on Saturday, they will guarantee their crown and wrap up an exhausting and pulsating title race.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said this would be her favourite title should they win it, not just because of the football journey but also due to her own personal health issues. Hayes missed six weeks between October and November following an emergency hysterectomy as part of her “ongoing battle with endometriosis”. General manager Paul Green and assistant Denise Reddy took charge of the team in Hayes’ absence, and she is grateful for their trust and competency.
Winning takes sacrifices, and Hayes knows that. She has won five WSL titles with Chelsea and 13 major trophies in total since joining the club in 2012. Being a mother has changed her outlook on life, and work is no longer her priority; her son Harry is. She encourages her players to spend time with their families too and gives them time off when she can, believing it’s important to help them reset between matches.
Hayes had taken Harry into work with her on Saturday and promised him an ice cream and a bike ride after their victory over Arsenal on Sunday. She said that family time with Harry is precious, and that life is just as important as football. While her players were looking forward to watching the Manchester derby on Sunday, Hayes said it was not even an option for her. The only way she got Harry through the weekend was the promise of ice cream and bike rides – a reminder that her son is the most important thing in her life.