Maybe the juggernaut will only get bigger.

Emma Hayes has officially departed Chelsea, drawing an end to an unparalleled 12-year tenure.

Hayes’ exit sparked immediate debate about what the future held for the Blues, a team largely unrivalled in their domestic dominance over the last decade. But with the former Lyon boss Sonia Bompastor officially announced as Hayes’ successor, the Women’s Super League behemoths look to be in fine hands. In fact, the one trophy that perennially evaded Hayes during her Chelsea tenure - the Champions League trophy - is one Bompastor knows intimately.

The French coach arrives in west London having been agonisingly close to lifting it for a second time in three years, only to become the latest side to succumb to the zest and sparkle of Barcelona and Ballon d'Or winner Aitana Bonmati. It's hardly a feat to feel disappointed in. And the fact Lyon were not comprehensively outclassed or unravelled by the Spanish giants augurs well for the Blues.

As does Bompastor's pedigree not only in Europe but as a manager familiar with dealing with the increasing quantity of fixtures and expectations in the top echelons of the women's game.

The highly-anticipated appointment of Bompastor arrives with all the pressures and expectations that Hayes left behind upon taking over the USWNT. But Chelsea believe they’ve found not only the best candidate suited to maintaining the success of the club during its Hayes era, but to take the Blues to the next level in Europe.

So who are Chelsea getting in Sonia Bompastor and can those new heights be hit? Mirror Football takes a look.

It’s first important to establish what the Blues were searching for in Hayes’ replacement. The 47-year-old Hayes was heavily involved in the recruitment process and was candid about the desire to recruit a female coach to ensure that women’s voices and point of views continue to be heard and acted upon as the game grows.

Bompastor fits this bill, while also assuaging concerns that the number of women in head management roles was creeping dangerously low (in the Women’s Super League, there will be three women managers from next season).

A big personality with plenty of confidence and steadfast faith in herself, the French coach will be able to take up the slack from Hayes to keep guiding women’s football in the right direction.

Importantly, Bompastor carries significant pedigree to Chelsea, a necessity in a dressing room teeming with high-profile signings and names. Across an extensive and trophy-laden playing career, the former Lyon boss won eight Division Feminine 1 titles throughout her playing career, as well as claiming the Champions League twice with Lyon and racking up 150 caps for the France national team.

After retiring from playing in 2013, Bompastor spent eight years in Lyon’s academy, honing her craft as a player-manager and learning the importance of bringing youth the ranks, an important facet of Chelsea’s success in recent seasons.

In 2021 following the sacking of Jean-Luc Vasseur in April, Bompastor was promoted to head coach of the senior team and needed no time to adjust to the rigours of first-team management. The 43-year-old claimed the league and European double in her first season, defeating holders Barcelona 3-1 in the Champions League final. The following season, Lyon claimed the league once more, along with the Coup de France. And in her final season with Lyon, Bompastor won a third league title and reached a second Champions League final.

Such a track record will be key as she bids to make her mark with Chelsea, who have toiled to overcome the albatross of Europe under Hayes. Lyon arguably could have walked away from Bilbao with the trophy in hand, having spurned a number of chances to put the game away before Bonmati's second-half goal. But while Lyon's squad was strong, Chelsea's is arguably stronger, an encouraging harbinger when combined with Bompastor's tactical nous. It could result, finally, in a European winning formula.

Of course, Bompastor will need time. Chelsea are still undergoing a rebuild, welcoming in a host of new staff and new characters. Even so, Bompastor, like Hayes, is hailed for her player management skills. A relaxed figure on the touchline, the French coach speaks emotively about the need to fill players with confidence to get the best out of them.

During training sessions, Bompastor is known to join in drills as well but she does not shy away from setting high demands and holding players to account to reach them. She too knows how to deal with dressing rooms teeming with elite-level players and big-money signings, keeping such players happy amid constant rotation during a gruelling and demanding season.

Stylistically, Bompastor employs a 4-3-3 like Hayes, using a holding midfielder and two No 8s, while her fullbacks push high up the pitch and wingers cut inside, often working off the striker.

The system will most likely benefit Catarina Macario, Lauren James and Sjoeke Nusken, as well as record-signing Mayra Ramirez in the centre. Full-back Niamh Charles and Ashley Lawrence, whom Bompastor will know from her time in France.

The recruitment of another central midfield player could be important this summer if Bompastor is to implement a similar style to the one she utilised with Lyon.

The bedding-in period for Bompastor will likely be ruthless as expectations for the seven-time WSL champions remain high. The need to perform in Europe will also be a heavily-scrutinised area for the Blues after Bompastor’s track record on the biggest of stages.

But Bompastor is more than familiar with the landscape of pressure cookers. As both player and manager, Bompastor has routinely risen to challenges and exceeded expectations. Her greatest challenge yet now awaits in west London.

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2024-05-29T16:55:30Z dg43tfdfdgfd