Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes insists that her side will continue to be a success despite the impending sale of the club by Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich announced on Wednesday that he would sell the club after 19 years of ownership, having come under pressure due to his alleged ties with Russia president Vladimir Putin amid the invasion of Ukraine.
During his tenure, the billionaire has massively supported the women’s team, which has won 11 trophies since 2014 and reached the Women's Champions League final last May.
What has been said?
Speaking in her pre-match press conference on Friday, on the eve of Chelsea’s Continental Cup final against Manchester City, Hayes said: “Chelsea has been a strong force and will remain a strong force going forward because of the people involved with this football club.
“This is part of the reason why we have, as a football club, been hugely successful. It's an amazing culture, with amazing people internally.
“I think we will come through this period and adapt and evolve, as you have to in this business. While there's uncertainty, athletes know that, football players know that, no thing remains the same and having that ability to acknowledge change when it happens, [and] adapt and evolve to that, I think, is what makes top, top class players what they are.
“I feel like I have no anxieties or worry about our position or our status.
“Chelsea are people and amazing people, across the club, leading in all sections. From [head of youth development] Neil Bath, to [men's head coach] Thomas Tuchel, to the work we’re doing here - we will be successful going forward, nothing has changed.
“We’ve got a cup final tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to that. I can’t control what’s being said in the media, what I know is that the team is focused and ready for another cup final tomorrow.
“I think that one thing I know how to do really well is to cope with challenging situations and yes, there’s a challenge in the situation we’re in, but we’re not afraid of it.
“I think the week has been difficult, of course it has, I can’t deny that, but nothing is more difficult than what Ukraine is going through.
“We play football, we play a sport we love. Yes, there’s going to be some change but Chelsea will prevail and maintain, I think, the position that we’re in because of the amazing people that we have at our football club.
“This is a successful organisation and it will remain a successful organisation and you won’t do that by breaking it up or going backwards. No, this football club is invested in its women’s team and I expect that to remain long and strong into the future.”
Chelsea captain Eriksson returns for the final
While dealing with off-pitch turbulence in the build-up to Saturday’s final, Chelsea, who have won the last two editions of the Conti Cup, have been boosted for the game by the return of Magda Eriksson.
The team’s captain has been out since before Christmas with an injury, but after a number of setbacks is now “in a really good place” and will be in the squad.
Only Scotland international Erin Cuthbert and Germany midfielder Melanie Leupolz will be missing from the team, with Russian full-back Alsu Abdullina set to be involved after what Hayes understands will have been a “difficult” week for her, too, after her chance to compete in this summer’s UEFA Women’s Euro was taken away.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said earlier this week that the team will not compete in the competition, which would’ve been Abdullina’s first major tournament.
“I think you've got to realise, my job as a coach is to support her, not to judge, not to analyse,” Hayes said, asked about how she has managed the full-back this week. “It's just to listen and be there for her.
“I'm sure it's been a difficult week. She doesn't speak much English so the communications we have has to be via translation.
“What I know is that Alsu is a valued member of our team, part of our family, and it's important that we look out for her because she's, of course, going to have had a difficult week.
“But she's a wonderful asset, a wonderful girl, and someone who I wish could speak more in English to her, but I can't. Until we get to that point where we speak the same language, I can't possibly understand what she's feeling this week.”