Nick Cushing backs Emma Hayes to make the right impression in new role

Emma Hayes has been backed to do an “incredible” job as United States women’s team boss by old rival Nick Cushing, who is making his own mark across the pond with New York City FC.

It is four months since it was announced that the 47-year-old would be calling time on her medal-laden time as Chelsea at the end of the season to become a national team manager.

Hayes will be returning to the country where she began her coaching career at the start of the millennium and will likely bump into one of the few managers to have dented her domestic dominance.

Cushing currently coaches Major League Soccer side NYCFC having previous led Manchester City for six years, including beating Chelsea to the 2016 Women’s Super League crown.

“She’s incredible about what she does,” he said. “I loved fighting with her – we fought every weekend and every season for those trophies.

“I think she’ll do an incredible job. I think if I was going to hire, I would’ve hired her because she’s the best in the women’s game by far.

“Her record speaks for itself but also her ability to manage, her knowledge of the game.

“I do believe you’ll see her in the men’s game at some point. That’s my opinion. I think she’s capable and I think in time people will see her capability.

Emma Hayes and Nick Cushing went toe-to-toe for domestic glory
Emma Hayes and Nick Cushing went toe-to-toe for years (Steven Paston/PA)

“I think she’ll be successful in the US women’s national team and then she will have almost conquered the women’s game.”

Cushing is full of admiration and praise for Hayes, whose outstanding work at Chelsea restricted him to a still impressive haul of six trophies in as many years with City.

They were tussling for the WSL title again before the 39-year-old left during the 2019-20 season to become assistant manager of fellow City Football Group side NYCFC.

They won the MLS Cup the following year and Cushing was promoted to head coach in 2022 following an initial spell as Ronny Deila’s interim replacement.

“If you give me my time again and give me a crystal ball, I would be a football player every time,” the NYCFC boss said. “10 times out of 10.

“But when you don’t get the ability to be a football player and then you invest your time at 19 to becoming a coach, you get to the point where you’re at 39 where you probably should be in the first two years of your coaching.

“But you’ve got nearly 20 years of working at academy level through all ages, then the women’s game.

“I didn’t pick my journey but if I could change anything I probably wouldn’t change much of what I’ve done.”

Nick Cushing became permanent NYCFC boss in 2022 (NYCFC handout)
Nick Cushing became permanent NYCFC boss in 2022 (NYCFC handout)

Cushing wants to kick on in his second full season in charge at NYCFC, who continue the new MLS season at St Louis City having narrowly lost their opener at Charlotte FC.

The 39-year-old says he is driven by a desire to keep up with successful CFG stablemates and clearly wants to take his career as far as he can, having risen through the ranks since joining City as a schools coach in 2007.

“My ambition is to work at the highest level of the game,” Cushing said when asked about the potential of one day managing boyhood club Everton.

“Every time I have gone up, I’ve never felt out of my depth and felt like it was a challenge greater than what I have capable in my character.”