Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is finally seeing the funny side of criticism lobbed at star striker Sam Kerr after the Australian scored two sensational second half volleys to seal the Blues‘ third straight Barclays FA Women’s Super League title.
Kerr, who joined Chelsea from Chicago Red Stars in 2020, scored her 19th and 20th goals of the BFA WSL season in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Manchester United at Kingsmeadow, pulling her six ahead of Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema.
While fans and opponents now fawn over the Golden Boot winner, Hayes recalled the days when the 2022 FWA Footballer of the Year wasn’t greeted so fondly.
“It is hilarious when you consider it,” said Hayes.
“The best have it both sides of the ball – defensively from the front, she can make it a nightmare for the opponent and once spaces open up, she can score all different types of goals including the third one today.”
“I said come and play for Chelsea, you’ll win trophies here, and I can sit here confident that we both made the right decision, we’re both made for Chelsea and we both love days like today.”
Chelsea were given a scare when twice trailing in the first half, as Manchester United were much the better of the two sides in the opening exchanges.
Martha Thomas and Ella Toone scored for the Reds within 25 minutes and although Erin Cuthbert took her goal well in between those two, it was the away fans who were cheering at half time as United led 2-1.
Hayes made two changes after the restart, with Bethany England and Ji So-Yun coming on for the Blues.
They had almost an immediate effect as Chelsea came flying out of the blocks and went from trailing to leading in the blink of an eye.
The first of Kerr’s outstanding strikes came just one minute into the second half, and four minutes later the comeback was complete when Guro Reiten neatly tucked away her chance as United were left with no answers to Chelsea’s intensity.
Kerr then finished the game off with an even better volley than the first, and the game and title were sealed in style to audible relief around the ground.
“Hayes, questioned about the second-half substitutions, said:”I think no matter what we do in terms of the team we put out or the tactics we put out, this team has the ability when something doesn’t go well to overcome it, we didn’t carry out the game plan at all in the first half.
“We couldn’t pass the ball, let alone win the first and second ball, the distance between her and the rest of the team was too massive.”