Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes has been linked with the vacant position at AFC Wimbledon.
The Express reports that the 44-year-old is on the League One club’s shortlist following the departure of Glyn Hodges at the weekend. Should she be appointed, she would be the first woman to take a managerial role in senior English men’s football.
Hayes has managed a number of clubs in Women’s football over the years, including spells at Long Island Lady Riders, Arsenal Ladies, Chicago Red Stars and, most notably, Chelsea Women.
The Blues are currently on a remarkable 33-game unbeaten run in the Women’s Super League after a win against Tottenham at the weekend. Yet, Hayes has previously declared her desire to work in men’s football one day.
“All coaches aspire to be at the best level they can get to, and I’m no different,” she admitted. “If it happened for me that the next opportunity was in the men’s game, then I’d welcome that.
“But I also think there needs to be more female coaches at the top end of the women’s game before more are entering into the men’s game.”
In the last 12 months, Hayes has added the likes of Australia international Sam Kerr, Germany star Melanie Leupolz, and UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Pernille Harder to her squad along with England Lionesses including Bethany England and Fran Kirby.
Her team are the defending WSL champions and also current FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup holders, and her name was mentioned in the frame for the England women’s head coach role after Phil Neville announced his intention to take over at Inter Miami.
But she has also been linked with a string of jobs in the men’s game, including the Chelsea hot-seat in 2019 after the departure of Maurizio Sarri.
“It’s going to happen [join the men’s league] and it’s important I say that.” she said.
“Managing people has no gender bias but unfortunately football is still stuck in the Victorian era where it thinks the only way to get the most out of professional athletes is with traditional management techniques.
“It will take a brave owner to take that decision but all it takes is one successful situation for it to happen again and again.
“The chances of going to manage in the Premier League as a woman are low but going in and managing at a level below, or as an assistant, makes sense.
“There is going to be pressure on that person. You’ll have to put up with a fair amount of abuse. So it had better be worth it.”
Plenty of other candidates have also been mentioned, including Ian Holloway, Sol Campbell, former Fleetwood boss Joey Barton, and National League Boreham Wood’s Luke Garrard, a former player.
Only time will tell if Hayes will make the big step to managing in the men’s game; what’s for sure is that Chelsea has been given plenty of support within the club to achieve that ambition.