Scouting Emma Hayes: Breaks down new USWNT head coach based on tactics, management style at Chelsea FC
Emma Hayes may be new to international management, but theshe has a lengthy recap of her time at Chelsea that will provide insight into how she fits in with the four-time Women’s World Cup winner.
The England international has decades of coaching experience, including spending much of the first decade of his career in the US, which culminated in 2010 with a stint at the Chicago Red Stars during the club’s WPS days. She took the Chelsea job in 2012 and made a name for herself there and quickly rose to prominence as one of the most recognizable club coaches in the women’s game.
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Her prominence comes as a result of her incredible success at Chelsea. Hayes has won the Women’s Super League six times, a feat the club had not done before her arrival. Chelsea became the epitome of a women’s football success story in the club game thanks to a practical but disciplined tactical approach on the field and a modern off-field strategy, and it has shaped in Hayes’ vision.
That made her an ideal candidate to lead the USWNT into a new era for women’s soccer, even if there was some uncertainty. Here’s a look at Hayes’ profile before she joins the USWNT in May.
Hayes’ Chelsea are the definition of command, something even a quick glance at any stats sheet will reveal. Take the 2022-23 WSL season, in which the Blues won their fourth consecutive title, for example – they were in the top four for almost every advanced rating, and led the league with 66 goals. That has been the case for a number of seasons now, including after an uneventful start to the current campaign.
Her success is the result of choosing to build tactics around the talent at hand and the situation in front of her. Undoubtedly, Hayes prefers an attacking approach and has signed high-profile talent at Chelsea to achieve that – the list of attackers on the team’s roster includes Sam Kerr, Lauren James, Fran Kirby, and USWNT duo Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel. .
Hayes has pursued a wide variety of forms to achieve her ultimate goals. She prefers a back four but is very willing to mix things up further up the pitch and has thrown out 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 in recent games . Hayes always keeps her audience guessing, though – she has also opted for three-back systems on a number of occasions, including in a handful of games this season.
One of Hayes’ on-field positions assigns important parts to wide players. She prefers to be a vital part of building attacks, and Guro Reiten and Niamh Charles have excelled in these roles. Reiten led the WSL in assists last season with 12, while Charles trailed only defender Magdalena Eriksson for a touch on her team.
Although Hayes seems to prefer an attacking position, being defensive is something she is not averse to depending on the situation. She doesn’t stick to that position often due to Chelsea’s dominant style, but she has broken through the first line of defense against top-level opposition on occasion.
That tactical flexibility is likely to suit her on the international stage, which does not take much time for coaches to settle on a specific tactical style and prevents the recruitment of players with a specific passport. It will also allow the USWNT to test the idea of whether they need minor fixes before the Olympics, as Hayes will only have four games to prepare for the tournament.
Hayes rose to prominence thanks to her success on the field, but her advocacy for the women’s game – and in particular, the players that make it up – has only added to her status as a fan in the her business.
She has consistently called for standards around the women’s game to rise, and envisions a world where she can enjoy “big stadiums full, women getting paid correctly, broadcasting deals driving in”. business around it, prize money that trickles down to the rest of the I want a place where girls can feel that it’s not just a game for boys,” according to a recent interview in the Guardian.
While she has called on the powers that be for reforms, including ensuring that women’s teams play more games in bigger stadiums, she has used her own position to players around her to develop. In 2020, Chelsea began designing individual player plans around their menstrual cycles to better understand the impact on athletes’ bodies. The strategy helps to deal with symptoms related to players’ cycles, as well as dealing with weight change and dealing with potential injury concerns.
Hayes took that personalized approach a step further last year when Melanie Leupolz announced her pregnancy. Chelsea joined a pelvic floor physiologist to be part of the Leupolz care team and also monitored her nutrition, energy levels, strength and posture, and her musculoskeletal system. This led Leupolz to say she was “really happy” with her pregnancy and allowed her to get back on the pitch ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup with Germany.
“I didn’t worry because I knew I had good people around me,” the player said of the experience, according to The Athletic. “They had all the numbers, monitoring everything . I felt so soon after I gave birth (that) that I was able to train with the girls. Sometimes I wonder (at) how easy everything was.”
Those who have worked with Hayes also praise her for her one-on-one management. Former England internationals Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko said Hayes was someone they could trust in their mental health struggles, while the head coach said she is still adapting her communication methods for a generation of players who “b’ you prefer to text or WhatsApp them.
While she is flexible as an assistant, she believes that the one thing every head coach needs is emotional intelligence, as she says in her newly published book. Kill the Unicorn.
“If you’re not an empathetic manager, you’ll eventually get kicked out of the system,” she said. “A younger workforce is naturally curious, questioning intellectual, and seeing through the Unicorn feeling that one exalted person has the same power to change their fortunes. Lasting success is based on teamwork … the feelings of people around you, one of the superpowers a manager needs big.”