Chelsea women’s boss Emma Hayes has defended Man City’s Gareth Taylor after his team’s poor start to the season –– urging fans to “give them a break.”
City lost 2-1 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying and suffered defeat by the same scoreline to Tottenham in the Women’s Super League yesterday.
After his team’s loss to Madrid, Taylor was vocally critical of the women’s football calendar, with City unable to play a pre-season friendly in the build-up to the qualifiers due to the congested schedule.
And Hayes has jumped to Taylor’s support on this topic, stressing she agreed with his comments and had made the same point about player welfare herself in the past.
“For a manager to go through pre-season without a pre-season friendly… The pressure is on us to win games and I think that can always be seen as an excuse, but I agree with him,” the Blues manager said.
“I think he was right to make that comment. And the powers that be will be conscious that a European Championship is next summer and some of us might have 10, 11, 12, 13 players in that.
“If you don’t win the league and you’re expected to compete [in Europe] within two weeks of that, it’s not acceptable. It’s not acceptable on the players and Man City lose out a result of that.
“Real Madrid had their players together the whole time, didn’t have players at the Olympics, all had a full pre-season, and then everybody is up in arms, having a go at City and come on, give them a break.”
While Hayes emphasised that City’s season is not defined by this poor start, yesterday’s loss to Spurs has cast further pressure on Taylor’s job security, with the Englishman admitting his side have to be “pretty flawless” from now on.
In a league which is so often decided by fine margins, City may well look back on this game as the moment which ruined their title hopes.
Spurs’ winning goal involved a clear handball which the officials failed to spot, but in truth, City were far below par for much of the game regardless.
The international break this week will be an opportunity for the team to reset and start again, ahead of a must-win game against an in-form Arsenal team at the end of September.
Win, and the woes of this week may well be forgotten. Lose, and the idea of a trophyless season becomes an increasingly more probable reality.