Super Fran Seals the Title! Kirby stars as Chelsea knocking down Reading to secure the fourth Women’s Super League championship for Manchester City
- Emma Hayes’ Chelsea took consecutive top titles on Sunday afternoon
- Fran Kirby and Australian star Sam Kerr came together for three of the five goals
- Emma Hayes’ squad beat Manchester City on the last day of the season
Emma Hayes would no doubt laugh at the comparison, although there were echoes of Sir Alex Ferguson as she encouraged her players to observe geese team ethics, before the match that took them to a second straight WSL title.
Ferguson didn’t really push the Chelsea manager to the limit by asking his players to ‘honk’ like the bird in question, although his resemblance was much the same as hers when he applied it a decade ago. “They fly in V formation,” he explained. The second row turns into the first. The second take over. So teamwork. ‘
However you tell it, Hayes is starting to earn a status here close to what Ferguson has established at Manchester United. It’s now three titles in four years for her here, and the first consecutive win since Liverpool took the feat in 2014. She has left Liverpool and Arsenal in the dust. Manchester City spent a lot last summer, but they are also still sitting in its rearview mirror.
Chelsea have won a record fourth FA Women’s Super League title, after beating Reading 5-0
Fran Kirby (left front) and striker Sam Kerr (left back) together accounted for three of the goals
Chelsea (4-3-3): Berger 6.5; Charles 7 (Andersson 57), Bright 6, Eriksson 6.5, Carter 6 (Blundell 68); Leupolz 6.5 (Fleming 69), Ingle, Ji 7 (Reiten 7); Harder 6 (Cuthbert 57), Kerr 8
Manager: E Hayes 8
Read (4-3-3): Moloney 5.5; Leine 5.5, Cooper 5.5, Bartrip 5, Roberts 6 (Eikeland 78 6); James 6, Williams 7, Rowe 7.5; Carter 6, Harries 5.5 (Chaplen 46 7), Harding 5.4
Manager: K rooms 7
Referee: S Pearson 7
Demanding, often uncompromising, intellectually curious about marginal profits, yet naturally aware of what drives its players: Old Trafford knows all about such a manager. Showing the players ‘geese videos was Hayes’ way of protecting himself from complacency, while the title was still on the line. They took the lead at 70 seconds – the fastest opening goal of the season.
There have been plenty in the second row of Chelsea’s V formation all season. The five-foot Ji-So Yun gives everyone a run for their money in the Player of the Season for sheer technical consistency. She played the game in the 3-1 win over City here last October: essential three points afterwards.
Millie Bright contributed greatly to the hotly contested draw at Arsenal in November. Ann-Katrin Berger’s series of saves held up 2-2 at City 18 days ago, when the defeat would have changed its complexion on Sunday. But Fran Kirkby was the shining light and delivered relentlessly, not least in the 2-1 win that took the wind out of Manchester United’s sails and sent Chelsea to the top in January.
Both of her goals on Sunday typified her extraordinarily intuitive partnership with Kerr, which City can’t match. First, she let Kerr’s precision ball run over her through a busy area before bending a shot past Grace Moloney.
Emma Hayes celebrates with the trophy after Chelsea takes their place at the top of the table
Kerr (left) and Kirby celebrate during their 5-0 beating of Reading in Kingsmeadow
Chelsea have won a record four Women’s Super League titles following the success of this season
Then she anticipated Kerr’s cut to send a first 15-yard attempt to the net. The tables were turned for Chelsea’s fourth – Kerr sent from close range from Kirby’s floating pass. By then, Hayes had removed half of her fielders in view of the Gothenburg Champions League final against Barcelona on Sunday. Kerr’s 21 goals earn her the WSL Golden Boot. Berger takes the golden glove.
The title has not been a walkover. It helped that, with five major hires and a new manager, City needed six weeks to actually fire. But Manchester United and Everton have invested more and the whole company has been more relentless this time. Managers have been fired at a faster rate than in the Premier League. As things stand, only five of the 12 clubs will start next season with the manager finishing last.
Teams have invested. Some heavy, ”Hayes thought Sunday night. It wasn’t just a matter of ‘Chelsea has invested’ and other teams haven’t. There are four teams that somehow could have entered with a shout. This was the hardest Super Fran seals the title! Kirby the star as Chelsea thrash Reading to secure record fourth WSL.
Erin Cuthbert puts Chelsea’s fifth goal past Grace Moloney (right) in the Reading net
Hayes and her staff pose with the trophy after winning the Women’s Super League again
‘We also had to manage Covid. We had to manage a locker room with people who haven’t been there in over a year. That’s difficult. But there is also depth. People think deep strength is an advantage, but you try to manage it and you will see how challenging it is – day in, day out, keeping players on the couch. I’ve never had that before. I’ve probably never experienced so much of a challenge internally. ‘
The arrival of next season’s £ 21million Sky Sports / BBC TV deal has made this a very poor season to be relegated to Bristol City and we are now waiting in hopes of leveling out, with the top four so painfully far ahead the rest. . It is surprising that relatively few clubs have really done anything about it, given the relatively small expenditure that is required. The £ 250,000 it cost to bring Harder here equates to top Premier League weekly wages.
There are challenges for everyone. Arsenal must find a new manager. Manchester City’s American stars may return to the United States. But Hayes may need more where that geese saying came from. “Do I look like someone taking things out of a coaching handbook,” she replied when asked if this was the source. ‘My older sister, Victoria, gave it to me. It made me laugh. So I used it. ‘