Emma Hayes said her Chelsea side “purred” as they won the FA Cup on Sunday – which was probably the last thing Jonas Eidevall wanted to hear.
Arsenal boss Eidevall had revealed before the game that he had a superstitious aversion to black cats, so Hayes’ choice of word would have done little to make him feel any better after defeat at Wembley.
Two goals from Sam Kerr added to a third-minute opener from Fran Kirby to gave Chelsea a dominant 3-0 win in the delayed final to last season’s FA Cup.
It completed a treble of domestic trophies for Chelsea in 2020-21 – though Hayes was keen to point out it was a fourth if you include the Community Shield.
“We have painted Wembley blue,” Hayes said after celebrating a third FA Cup title with her staff and players – and she was visibly emotional while discussing the “pride” she had at seeing her three-year-old son, Harry, in the stands.
“It was dominant, it was dogged when it needed to be and I thought tactically we got it spot on,” she said. “We dealt with the threats well, kept a clean sheet… What more can I say?
“This is a proud day to be the manager of Chelsea. I represent a club of people – backroom staff, players, owners and the board – who are united in building Chelsea.
“Are we the most dominant team in England right now? Yes, of course. The quadruple suggests that. I thought we were like a machine today. Everything about us… We just purred from start to finish.”
‘It felt like validation’
Hayes is used to winning. Chelsea have won back-to-back Women’s Super League titles and three FA Cups under her guidance, as well as reaching last season’s Champions League final.
And this victory was payback for Chelsea’s defeat by Arsenal on the opening weekend of the WSL season.
“I’ve been here before and I felt so calm today about everything,” said Hayes. “I felt like it was validation. I felt we needed another opportunity after that opening game.
“I felt the players wanted to showcase themselves and deliver on the biggest stage. I thought it was a classy, classy performance.”
One big difference about this victory for Hayes was having her son there to see it. The last time Hayes lifted the trophy, she was pregnant.
She said: “I had a photo with him but it was the worst thing in the world going to see him because he didn’t want to let me go to do the press conference, so he’s upstairs crying his eyes out!
“But I’m sure in years to come, I can go and show him the photos and I know he would have enjoyed it. It’s overwhelming for a three-year-old but it was overwhelming for me.
“I said to [Chelsea captain] Magdalena Eriksson before we sang the national anthem that my son is there – and I could feel my eyes filling up with the pride and joy of him being out of my belly and on the touchline.
“We all go to work for different reasons. I go to work for my family.”
So how will Hayes celebrate?
“I get to drive home 15 minutes away, put Harry in bed hopefully before 8pm and hopefully I get to watch an episode of Succession because I’m really into that at the minute,” she said. “I’ll get to bed before 10.30pm too, I hope!”
‘We have failed before and risen back’
Arsenal boss Eidevall suffered defeat in his first appearance at Wembley, though he hopes the experience will ultimately benefit his players.
“It was not effort that was at fault,” he said. “The players tried to do everything on the pitch but the quality for us as a team was not there.
“I told the players that at times like this everyone thinks we’re at the bottom. We need to believe as a group. We need to remember that we have failed before and have risen back. We will do that again.”
The defeat was Arsenal’s first in domestic competition since losing to Chelsea back in February, though they have also been beaten by European champions Barcelona this season.
But Eidevall said it was not a “big game problem” and he is fuelled by the motivation of seeing his players celebrating similar success to those enjoyed by Chelsea and Barcelona.
“I’m not the type of person that is motivated by hatred or motivated about being hurt by others celebrating,” he added.
“I definitely would like my players and staff to be standing there themselves because they deserve it. I can’t wait to get another opportunity to get back here.
“I want to do everything in my power to do that. That’s the big motivation.”