You wonder if on Friday, on the eve of Chelsea's Continental Cup final against Arsenal at the City Ground, Emma Hayes took a detour of 1.6 miles - or a 33 minute walk - to Old Market Square, the home of Nottingham’s Brian Clough statue. After Chelsea edged out Manchester United in the semi-final, Hayes’ first thought was not that she now had a chance to end her trophy drought in this competition but that she was going to manage a team at “Cloughie’s home”.
Clough was, of course, inimitable in the slick one-liners and comic turns that soundtracked Nottingham Forest’s journey from an unfashionable, provincial club into twice European champions, although Hayes speculated last month that she “might be his female equivalent”. She does not suffer fools: it has almost become a trope of the Hayes press conference to watch her cringe inwardly when she is met with the kind of convoluted, ambling stats that don’t really amount to a question. She can hold the floor with the control of an after-dinner speaker as easily as she cuts through anything close to insincerity. Her trophy haul does not match Clough’s - not yet - but there is time.
She had planned, on Saturday, to wear a green shirt in homage to Clough’s signature green jumper and yellow PE teacher shorts. “My mum said green doesn’t go with blue,” Hayes says, “that you can’t wear a green shirt with a blue suit, so I’ll have to think about whether I’m going to disagree with my mother about it. I went to a lot of Nottingham Forest games live when they were in London. I’ve grown up always admiring his football. He’s straight-talking.”
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAt 43 and born in October 1976, Hayes would have been too young to remember the European Cup triumphs “but was very influenced by my father, who always spoke highly of John Robertson. We talked a lot about the recruitment of players.” She laughs as she briefly forgets Peter Taylor’s name - “[it] shouldn’t abandon my head because I’ve had it drilled into me”. Did she self-consciously style herself on Clough? “I don’t think we’re conscious about what we’re going to become. I’m sure he’s played a small part in that for me. But I’ve grown up in a house with a self-employed person their whole life. My dad’s only ever worked for himself. He made his own money and brought cash home every day. He’s grafted. I always think ‘outspoken’ gets used - misused. I find it refreshing to hear some honesty - his honesty in a time where there was probably more honesty than there is now with managers.”
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAt which point a small part of you thinks thank goodness Hayes is here to ramp up this final. Hayes has been the most vocal critic of a competition that has many. Their grievances? The sparsely-attended finals, the group stage format spawning a slew of dead rubber matches, the gulf between the full-time Women’s Super League teams and part-time Championship teams given the latter turn up to matches after a full day of work. This year's competition has given us Arsenal 9-0 London Bees, West Ham 7-0 Crystal Palace, Spurs 6-0 Lewes.
The reassuring thing about this weekend - aside from the obvious Hayes-Clough arc - is that ticket sales have at least surpassed the 5,000 mark and are predicted to beat the competition’s record, set in 2015, of 5,028. Attendances to the FA Cup final have increased by 30,000 since moving the competition to Wembley in 2015, but attendances to the League Cup final have not even remained stagnant but have declined. 5,028 in 2015, 4,214 in 2016, 2,136 in 2018, a small bump to 2,242 in 2019. Even without the comparison to Wembley the venues have felt unambitious: Wycombe’s Adams Park, Rotherham’s New York Stadium, Manchester City’s Academy Stadium with its capacity of 7,000.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“We keep on getting these questions about playing at the bigger stadiums,” says Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs. “Of course we want to play at big stadiums. But it’s just about doing the right thing for the women’s game. If we’re selling out crowds consistently for the Conti Cup final, then yes - we should hopefully be looking to play at a bigger stadium. But I think the FA Cup is a totally different area in the women’s game and it deserves that respect. Hopefully, in the future, it can happen - but we just need to keep moving with the times and selling out stadiums when we can.”
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe winner of this season’s Continental Cup will receive £6,500. Divided between a squad of 23 - not that Arsenal have often been able to name a full bench - and their head coach, that works out at £270.83 a head. That’s £20.83 more than you get for submitting a video to You’ve Been Framed. The runners-up will receive £3,500. The FA also covers all hotel and travel expenses for both clubs for the final and it is understood that the disparity in prize money is determined by the money generated through commercial revenue, including national and international broadcast rights.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThis is Arsenal and Chelsea’s first meeting since Chelsea’s 4-1 win in January, but Hayes insists there are no underdogs. “This is two top teams, both got match-winners in their own right. We’ve just played well enough for the last two games to be victors. Arsenal playing well can do the same.”
Arsenal: Zinsberger; Evans, Beattie, Schnaderbeck, McCabe; Williamson, Nobbs, Roord; Van de donk, Meidema, Foord
Chelsea: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson; Cuthbert, Ingle; Kerr, Ji, Reiten; England
Referee: 2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHelen Conley