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Lauren James keen to give Chelsea boss Emma Hayes final season to remember

Hayes announced her decision to step down in November and will become the head coach of the United States Women’s national team.

Rebecca Johnson
Thursday 15 February 2024 13:12 GMT
Lauren James and Emma Hayes recently won WSL awards (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Lauren James and Emma Hayes recently won WSL awards (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Lauren James hopes Chelsea can “achieve good things” in outgoing manager Emma Hayes’ final season in charge of the club.

Hayes announced her decision to step down in November and will become the head coach of the United States Women’s national team at the end of the campaign.

Her departure marks the end of a 12-year reign at Chelsea where she has won six Women’s Super League titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups.

James has worked with Hayes since her arrival at the club in 2021 aged 19 and she has since gone on to impress, recently earning the Barclays Player of the Month award in January after scoring five goals in two games.

“It’s good working with Emma, our relationship is close as everyone can probably imagine,” James told the PA news agency.

“I think highly of her and hopefully we can achieve good things this year together.

“In the moment I was disappointed and it hits you, but that’s the relationship we have. It’s football and people move on, I’ll just have to focus on Chelsea.”

James’ goalscoring feats last month helped Chelsea cement their spot at the summit of the WSL, where they sit three points clear of second-placed Manchester City ahead of a huge top-of-the-table clash on Friday night.

The 22-year-old England forward scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win against former club Manchester United before bagging a brace in the 3-0 victory against Brighton.

James is aiming to continue her form throughout the rest of the season, which sees her in the running for the WSL Golden Boot after scoring 12 goals in as many league games.

She said: “It was a special feeling to receive (the Player of the Month award), I got five goals in two games, so it wasn’t that bad of a month! Hopefully I can just continue that form throughout the season.”

As well as striving for a fifth successive league title, Chelsea remain in the hunt for trophies in three other competitions in a jam-packed schedule next month.

March 3 sees them take on Manchester City in the Continental Tyres League Cup before facing Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals three days later and they then play Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Champions League is arguably Chelsea’s more coveted prize and is the one major trophy missing from their impressive collection.

It’s good working with Emma, our relationship is close as everyone can probably imagine. I think highly of her and hopefully we can achieve good things this year together

Lauren James on Emma Hayes

They came close in 2021 after finishing as runners-up following a 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in the final and James admits getting far in the competition is the aim.

“I think it would be amazing, it’s something that everyone wants and dreams of,” she said.

“It’s something this club have been working towards for a while now. Hopefully on Emma’s final year we can hopefully get that far.

“I think (the Champions League) is good experience, the games have been a bit quicker because you’re playing against different opponents from different countries with different styles of play.”

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