IN LINE: Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea Ladies is being considered for the job of managing the men’s team. AFP Photo
By Paul Kennedy
I don’t know much about Emma Hayes other than what I’ve read about her in recent weeks.
For those of you as much in the dark as I was, she is the coach of Chelsea FC Women. And if you believe what you have read in the newspapers of late, she is in contention to take charge of the men’s team after the imminent departure of Maurizio Sarri.
The 42-year-old led Chelsea to third in the Women's Super League and to the semi-finals of the Women's Champions League this season.
In the previous season she won the double for Chelsea and during a spell coaching in America, won manager of the year.
Not too shabby for sure, but in my mind, she has nowhere near the credentials required to take charge of the men’s first team and the reasons have got absolutely nothing to do with her sex.
In my career that this month topped the 30 year mark, I have been lucky enough to work for some great and talented people, a lot of them women.
My first news editor when I was a ‘wet behind the ears 18-year-old thought he knew it all trainee journalist’ was a woman. She quickly knocked the arrogance out of me and put me firmly in my place.
I later worked for a woman who at the time was the youngster editor of a regional newspaper and she really knew her stuff, was determined, focused and super talented. Then in more recent years, the manager of a television station I worked at was up there with the best journalists I’ve ever known.
All women and all got their jobs through hard work, experience and climbing up the leadership ladder to get to the top. None of them, as far as I’m aware, were given the job purely on the basis of their sex.
Not for one minute am I suggesting that if Hayes gets the job, it will only because of her gender because she is clearly an exceptionally talented football coach, but for me she is simply not ready.
In the future, five, 10, 15 or even 20 years from now, women will manage Premier League teams. But just not today at Chelsea and here’s why.
For Hayes to even be considered the right person for the job, she needs to take charge, and prove herself, in the male dominated sport at a lower level.
Look at Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard as examples.
Both of them had amazing football careers and were nothing short of brilliant with a ball at their feet. Now the two of them have taken their first steps in management and they are doing it the right way.
Lampard and Gerrard both have legendary status at the clubs they made their names at, but after hanging up their boots neither of them considered immediately becoming the boss of Chelsea or Liverpool.
Both took the decision to ‘cut their teeth’ with lesser managerial positions at Derby County and Glasgow Rangers respectively.
While Hayes has enjoyed success with Chelsea FC Women, she has never coached a professional men’s team at any level.
Like Gerrard and Lampard have done, she needs experience at a lower league club where she not only needs to prove herself to the fans of that team, but also to the footballing world. All eyes will rightly or wrongly be focused on her.
Once she does, then sure, step up and move to a bigger club if the job is offered.
But right now, all the reasons to choose her to run Chelsea are wrong. And it would, in my opinion, be an insult to women’s rights if she is given the job just because the powers that be think it would be the PC thing to do.
Chelsea are a top team. This season they have qualified for the Champions League and will have played a Europa League final by the time you’re reading this.
Why they are ditching Sarri is beyond me, but as that seems to be a foregone conclusion, Chelsea will be soon looking elsewhere for a new boss.
They need a top manager, one with a proven track record of managing teams in the upper echelons of European football and I’m sorry Emma but at this moment in time, that’s not you. — VNS