Future USWNT boss Emma Hayes calls out Arsenal manager: 'I'm not down for male aggression on the touchline'

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Arsenal crushed Chelsea’s chances of pulling off the quadruple during Emma Hayes’ final season as the Blues manager. The North London side secured a 1-0 vicotry in extra time to lift the Conti Cup defeating Chelsea for a second consecutive year. 

Stina Blackstenius scored the game winning goal in extra time, adding to the high drama of the match, and left Chelsea with one less title to win during Hayes’e final stretch of time with the Blues. Hayes is set to leave London at the end of the season to take on her new role as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. She will be on the USWNT sidelines in June for a pair of friendlies against South Korea. 

The two WSL sides have had a close rivalry, which has revved up in recent seasons, spilling into the coaches boxes at times. During the Cup final, video clips emerged of Gunners manager Jonas Eidevall exchanging words on the sideline with Chelsea player Erin Cuthbert. After the game, additional footage of a shove during the handshake between Hayes and Eideavll surfaced, adding to the lore of the WSL rivalry between the teams. 

Both coaches addressed the heated moment on sidelines in post game comments.

“Listen, I think there’s a way to conduct yourself on the touchline, I really do. I think it’s absolutely essential that we role model in the right way. I’m not down for male aggression on the touchline, I’m really not, and fronting up to players, for me, that’s unacceptable,”
Hayes elaborated.

“I’m disappointed and I told Jonas that. I don’t think it’s okay to behave like that. He got a yellow card, and he should have probably been sent off. I’m all for competing to win, I’ve never been booked in 12 years, my time here, I totally accept he’s a winner and wants to win but his behavior on the touchline wasn’t acceptable.”

Eidevall offered more insight on Hayes’ use of “male aggression’ and explained the exnachge with Cuthbert stemmed from Chelsea’s gamesmanship during the match. 

“I think that’s a very irresponsible way of labeling the behavior that I have, I don’t feel comfortable with that label, I don’t think it’s the truth to do that, so I think it’s very irresponsible to do that. The ball gets kicked away and Chelsea wants to take a new ball to throw a quick throw-in and I said: ‘You guys wanted to play with one ball, now we need to get that ball.’ Of course, Erin doesn’t get happy over that, I didn’t say anything more in that situation,” Eidevall said. 

“If we decide to play with one ball we play with one ball. I like to play with multi-ball, the game is quick, but they didn’t want to do it and you can’t do it when it suits you. I think there is definitely a way you behave in the technical area, there is also a way you behave after the game, being a good winner, but you also need to be a good loser and be responsible in both those situations. I’m happy with the way I conduct myself and others need to look in the mirror and see if they’re happy with themselves,” he explained.

Hayes will have a different type of USWNT manager persona

While the conclusion of one coaching rivalry may be over, for casual USWNT fans, this might be an early introduction to Hayes as the headliner in a program where the U.S. national team is the main act. It’s the type of role not typically seen played by past U.S. women’s national team managers. 

While prior coaches have executed their duties (selecting rosters, press conferences, tactical criticisms) rarely has there ever been a coach quite like Hayes, willing to take center stage in a news cycle in an effort to keep her team on task. She is often praised for her transparency with media and her ability to deliver a quote, or take accountability should she misspeak. 

There’s a mutual respect for how she navigates media circles. She’s embraced the responsibilities as a media personality, analyst, and commentator herself — and its aided her when navigating the attention of press rooms.

It could almost be considered refreshing, and exactly what a rebuilding U.S. national team needs ahead of an Olympic tournament. A head coach that doesn’t shy away from opinions or answering questions about those opinions, while remaining an effective communicator with players and in media settings. 

As Hayes begins her long farewell in England, there are new faces and a young core to manage at the U.S. senior level. If they need a coach that embraces being not only a scene-setter, but also the main event, and even the encore if necessary, so that they can focus on putting on their best performance, they’re getting the ideal manager. 

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