Chelsea general manager Paul Green admitted that Emma Hayes returning to the Kingsmeadow stands for their side’s WSL clash against Aston Villa on Sunday gave the team ‘a real boost’, as the Blues ran out 3-1 winners.
Hayes attended a Chelsea match on Sunday for the first time since announcing she was taking a step back from football to recover from the emergency hysterectomy that she underwent at the beginning of October following her ongoing battle with endometriosis.
The Blues boss was in the directors’ box to watch Chelsea run out 3-1 victors over Villa thanks to a Lauren James brace and Sam Kerr goal, and was on her feet to applaud every time her side found the net.
Green and Denise Reddy continued to take charge of Chelsea for the fixture and took the team talks, but Hayes did also go into the dressing room before the game and at the break.
“It gave everybody a real boost to have Emma well enough to come and watch the game, albeit from the directors’ box,” said Green. “She did pop in and wish the girls good luck, and was in there at half time, albeit still allowing Denise and I to speak to the team, but she did get around one or two individuals.
“I think it’s great that she’s making good progress and felt well enough to come. It was sort of the first part of her reintegration into the group and we look forward to welcoming her back on a more permanent basis as soon as possible.”
Villa boss Carla Ward has spoken of the guidance and support that Hayes has offered her during her time in the WSL, and said the pair spoke before the game about how Hayes thought Ward’s side would set up against the Blues.
Villa were on the receiving end of a last gasp Kerr winner the last time they faced Chelsea, and Ward admitted it was slightly different coming up against the Blues without Hayes in the dugout.
“I didn’t have anyone to bounce off,” the Villa boss laughed. “We usually have like a bit of an argument or a bit of fun, or she runs down the touchline in the 94th minute and comes back and apologises.
“It was different because Denise [Reddy] sat down, but I saw her (Hayes) before and hopefully she’ll be back soon because not just Chelsea but I think the league need her.”