‘This isn’t pre season – there’s a trophy to compete for’ – Chelsea boss Hayes relishing the return of the Women’s Community Shield

The Blues will take on Manchester City on Saturday as the fixture returns to the women’s game for the first time in 12 years

It’s been so long since the Community Shield was a fixture in the women’s game that even the most established names in England haven’t won it.

Lionesses captain Steph Houghton, who will lead out Manchester City on Saturday as they take on Chelsea, has never even played in the fixture, which last took place in 2008 when Arsenal beat Everton 1-0.

For Blues boss Emma Hayes, so much has happened since her participation in that game as an assistant with the Gunners, that it is “testing [her] memory”, as she puts it, to recall.

“To think of the number of games that have actually taken place in my career from then until now,” she said, thinking back over the last 12 years.

She’s now a manager in her own right and has spent the last eight years bringing unprecedented success to Chelsea, in the form of seven trophies and two European semi-finals.

Last season, Hayes got her hands on the Continental Cup that has eluded her for so long, while also bringing home another league title, which puts Chelsea in the Community Shield on Saturday.

It gives her team an opportunity to start the campaign as they ended the last, by winning silverware, and a chance to make a statement ahead of the new Women’s Super League season, which begins next weekend.

“When you get to play the biggest games against the biggest opponents, everybody wants to be involved in that,” she said.

“Of course, it’s an opportunity. Of course, it’s a marker. It’s signalling the start of the season and it’s important the players understand that there’s a trophy to compete for. This isn’t a pre-season game.”

Chelsea will come up against a Man City team that will be one of their biggest rivals for silverware this season, one that has strengthened massively over the summer.

“They’ve spent a tremendous amount of money bringing in some unbelievable players and they’ve already been a top team,” Hayes said.

“The way they’ve strengthened off the pitch, I’m sure their fan base will expect really big things from them.

“That’s understandable because they’re already a very good team that have now improved what they’re doing to an even higher level.

“I expect that the competition between us will not change, it’s always neck-and-neck with everything.”

The pair, as well as Arsenal, are the front-runners for the trophies on offer this season in England, but for all the talk of how well Chelsea could do this season, Hayes is not looking beyond Saturday.

“I think the first thing is that I have to think about the Community Shield this weekend, and then after that it’ll be an FA Cup, after that it’ll be a Continental Cup, and then after that probably the league, and then after that the Champions League,” she said.

“I think we have to take one step at a time and put everything into the trophy that you’re competing for.

“A club of our size, we’re always going to be competing for all trophies, not just one and not one over the other.”

The challenge this season is replicating the levels of last season that saw Chelsea storm to a league title, beating both Man City and Arsenal twice on their way.

“Being in this environment, it’s not okay to ease off,” Hayes added.

“You’ve got to be at your very best every day if you want to keep progressing and keep playing for the club.

“You’ve got to have standards that are adhered to and everyone is driving towards that. That’s in place, but I think I have a great group of people who are growing together.

“Because of that, the expectations they have for each other are so high that it’s the reason why we are in the position we are in.

“I’m always proud to represent fantastic people and a club that’s been so good to me, that has given me the platform to produce a team that everybody is proud of.

“I think Saturday is another opportunity to do that and I know that everybody within our club is so proud of our section.”

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