Impetus’ Kieran Yap was in Chelsea‘s media conference for us today and heard from General Manager Paul Green who is one of the club’s staff covering Emma Hayes’ day-to-day roles in her absence as the defending champions’ travel to Everton (14/10/22).
Above: Chelsea General Manager Paul Green, who is taking over the team’s media conferences in Emma Hayes’ absence. Photo: Flora McLean.
Chelsea will face Everton this weekend without their iconic head coach Emma Hayes, but few clubs are better positioned to proceed without their leader in the dugout.
Hayes announced through Chelsea’s social media and her own accounts that she underwent an emergency hysterectomy following an ongoing battle with endometriosis (see statement here.) She said that she needed time and patience to return to full health, which Chelsea was happy to provide.
“Throughout my absences, Denise Reddy will be making the on-field decision along with (General Manager) Paul Green who will be carrying out all press obligations on my behalf.”
Reddy has extensive experience as an assistant and head coach in the NWSL and Denmark. Green expects few problems with her taking the reins, particularly with himself and former Bristol City boss Tanya Oxtoby by her side.
“I’ve spoken to her (Emma) quite a few times as you can imagine in the past week,” Green told the media.
“She’s making good progress back at home now, and we hope that progress will continue on a daily basis. Of course, we wish her a speedy recovery along with everybody else at the club. “Apart from that, we’ve been looking to get organized behind the scenes.
“We’ve been in this situation back in 2018 when Emma was pregnant so it’s not a new situation. We’ve got full confidence in the staff and the players that we’ll deal with the situation and get the results needed, to make sure that when Emma comes back into work that we’re on a good position on all fronts.”
Chelsea will face an in in-form Everton on Sunday. Brian Sorenson’s team have won their last two games to bounce back from a week one loss to West Ham United.
They were particularly damaging in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool, where Jess Park and Hanna Bennison shone against the local rivals.
“I think Brian’s done a really good job in moulding the squad and making some changes from last season,” said Green of the Everton boss.
“I think you can see that in the way they’ve started. They’ve been very impressive, and we know that we’ve got a target on our back.”
While Emma Hayes’s statement came as a surprise to fans, the clubs and players were informed before the international break. They have had time to prepare, and Green expects that Hayes may still play some part on matchday if she is feeling well enough.
“Emma will definitely still be involved. You know what sort of character she is. She’ll be at home watching all the training online. She’ll be linked into the bench on the matchdays as long as she’s well enough to do that.
“I’m sure it’ll be difficult for her to watch the games at home, hopefully we can play well in those games and get the results needed.”
Reddy has previously been a head coach at Sky Blue FC in the USA, and Vittsjö GIK in Sweden. Since moving to Chelsea as an assistant in 2020, she has worked closely with Hayes. Green felt confident that there would be no drastic differences after kick-off.
“She’s worked with Emma on two occasions. One here and obviously with Chicago Red Stars. She’s going to have the team ready for the game. She’s very detailed in her coaching. “She’ll be there on the touchline with Emma on the mic in her ear.
“She’ll be giving the instructions to the team. She’s very, very experienced so it’s not the first time Denise will have been in that situation. There’s not that much that will change she’s always on the bench anyway and working very closely with Emma and that will continue even in this situation.
“It’s business as usual for us, it means our leader won’t be there which is a blow, but the staff and the players are experienced enough to get through this.
“We’ve got Magda (Eriksson) and Millie (Bright), the two captains along with many other senior players who I’m sure will be making sure the players maintain their standards to get the results through this period for Emma.”
Along with the club captain and the Lionesses star, Chelsea have experienced leaders across the pitch. Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder wear the armbands for Australia and Denmark respectively. Green also pointed out the off-field structures and facilities that Chelsea have at their disposal, such as the medical staff.
“We’ve got everything to make the players successful,” he said.
“It just means we’ve got one cog missing from that wheel. Everybody else is well equipped to step up and cover Emma in this period when we need to focus on her getting well.”
All of this is crucial, not just to maintain Chelsea’s title challenge, but to ensure Hayes can rest without rushing back to the club.
“She’s improving every day, but we don’t want to put a timeline on it,” said Green.
“We know what type of character she is an I’m sure she’ll be wanting to get back as quickly as possible but at the same time it’s got to be the right time and her health takes priority.
“It’s a major operation so she needs to be patient herself and wait for the right time.”
The meeting with Everton is shaping up to be an interesting fixture. Both sides have won twice and lost once this season. Chelsea suffered a shock loss to Liverpool but defeated West Ham, an exact reversal of Everton’s results against those sides.
Chelsea’s players have returned from the international break without injury. Green and Reddy have a full squad to pick from. It is only the fourth game of the season, but it could prove important when Champions League places or the league title are settled in May.
Everton will be confident of getting a result, but Chelsea will want a win and a strong performance to relax their talismanic coach while she recovers at home.
Chelsea face Everton at 1pm local time (11pm AEST) on Sunday