With the women’s game in England enjoying a winter break, it has opened up some additional opportunities for there a greater presence on screen in a different capacity, as the men’s schedule continues at an unforgiving pace.
It seems like there is never football off my telly – not that I am complaining.
It was Emma Hayes’ name that made the biggest splash this past week, as she covered Leicester’s win over Liverpool with Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer alongside her in the pundits seats.
The current Chelsea manager is an experienced analyst, although her requirements as leading one of the best teams in Europe means her availability to showcase her knowledge is understandably limited.
She fitted in naturally, which shouldn’t need said, as she provided insight throughout the evening with the gender balance an even split as Gabby Logan played host on the night.
It wasn’t for any ill-judged remark or controversy that she made the headlines, but it was the recognition that was shown to her live on everyone’s screens that was most momentous for many.
"All of the things you are doing is really helping women's football progress"
"As a fellow coach, I've watched from the outside… you've done amazing"
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 28, 2021
During Brendan Rodgers’ post-game interview he paused to make special mention to Emma directly, as he highlighted the fantastic work she continued to achieve.
He said: “All of the things you are doing is really helping women’s football progress.
“As a fellow coach, I’ve watched from the outside… you’ve done amazing.”
The remarks were self-prompted and that added to the significant weight of the kind words, from someone so well respected across the game in a global capacity.
The moment was poignant, and I was grateful to have caught it live and could appreciate it for what it was.
Emma Hayes had incidentally choked whilst Rodgers had been responding to a previous question and so was still recovering a little to respond fully, however the moment was certainly a touching one for her and her gratitude was evident to see.
It was naturally captured by many and was showcased across social media channels almost immediately as many shared it without needing to comment, meanwhile other advocates of the women’s game highlighted the power of the dialogue.
If there were negative remarks, which there most certainly will have been, then they were suitably drowned out.
As the game continues to grow in stature, having the support of those already established in the men’s top flight helps to make an increased impact over those who disrespectfully dismiss both women and the women’s game.
Emma Hayes wasn’t the only one to appear, as Karen Carney and Eni Aluko have also enjoyed providing their coverage over other games this past week.
Carney has established herself more recently on Sky Sports, while Aluko is currently sporting director of new NWSL side Angel City in Los Angeles, but she took advantage of being back home for the festive period.
As it becomes more common to see these opportunities available to everyone who is knowledgeable and able, then hopefully we can continue to diminish outdated predispositions as well as encourage equality.
Plenty of transfer speculation
There has been no real news in the transfer window this past week, as teams and managers enjoyed a week away and with their families over the Christmas period.
However that hasn’t stopped there from being plenty of speculation over what might be a busy few weeks to come.
It coincides with the off-season in the US and so it is probable that both leagues could see players come and go.
One place to keep a close-eye on could be San Diego Wave, as the side will begin life in the NWSL in 2022 and will be led by former England defender and Manchester United head coach, Casey Stoney.
Stoney was unable to sign any United player in her first six months at the new club, which began in the summer, despite there not being any football for the club until the new year.
Alessia Russo has been mentioned as a possible target but Ella Toone is unlikely to be crossing the Atlantic after she signed an extension to her contract in November.
There had also been some rumours that USA midfielder Kristie Mewis could be on the move to Spurs after training with them last month. However, she would come at a significant fee after her recent trade from Houston Dash to Gotham FC (New Jersey).
Leicester and Villa are likely to try to bolster their squads as both teams look to advance to safer league positions.
Coventry plight highlights dangers
Coventry United Ladies will enter voluntary liquidation in the new year following an announcement from their club’s directors.
Having newly turned fully professional at the beginning of the season, they sit 11th in the Championship.
The news is a harsh realisation of the vulnerability that exists within game, despite having made significant strides of late. All players will have their contracts terminated on January 4, with only some players eligible for the PFA’s emergency support.
Meanwhile, Glasgow City captain Jo Love underwent surgery to repair her cruciate ligament this week. The injury is expected to keep her out until the end of the season.