The Chelsea Women manager has been praised for her insight at the tournament
Emma Hayes has been football punditry’s breakout star of Euro 2020 and, back by popular demand, she will grace our screens on Wednesday evening with touchline analysis during England’s semi-final versus Denmark, but what makes her so good as a co-commentator and summariser?
The Chelsea manager has received heaps of praise on social media for her tactical insights while working for ITV this summer, after securing a fourth league title last season. Yet, as two of the sports broadcasting industry’s experts told Telegraph Sport, success on the pitch does not guarantee success behind the microphone so quickly.
“It’s to her immense credit that she has resonated with so many people and made such an impact,” said commentator Clive Tyldesley. “You can be the most successful coach in the world, you can be a Guardiola, but actually this is a different skill. You have to come into this with humility and do your homework. Don’t underplay the amount of attention Emma will have given to trying to be as good a broadcaster as she can be.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s got her game face on when she comes into a commentary. She’s proud of her work, she cares. She’s taken on the job of co-commentating as seriously as she does coaching a football team."
Broadcaster Jacqui Oatley added: “I think she’s taking summarising to a different level to a certain extent. She is educating an audience during the course of a game.
“Those of us who cover women’s football know exactly what Emma Hayes is like, in that she is a big personality and an absolute dream in front of a microphone, but she’s not trying to be the person who has got all the stats so she can prove herself as a woman.
“She’s literally just an excellent coach who is looking at a game tactically and analytically, and she’s educating the audience without sounding too patronising.
“I think punditry has moved on now and I don’t think you can rely on being on the golf course all week and then showing up in a pundit’s chair or as a summariser, and just analysing what you see, I think it’s too competitive now. There are too many ex-players who want to do [these jobs], that now just being a big name isn’t enough anymore. You have to do a little bit more.”
- Alan Tyers: BBC lays down majestic marker in emotional montage stakes – over to you, ITV
Tyldesley, who was behind the microphone for ITV’s highlights coverage of Italy’s semi-final win over Spain on Tuesday night, has commentated on the sport’s biggest fixtures since the late 1980s and few know better what is required from a summariser. He explains: “We need somebody who has been down there across the white line, down to the floor of the Colosseum, who can come back and tell the rest of us what it’s like, how you succeed and how you fail.
“That sounds like a fairly simplistic assignment, but actually of course they’re not trained broadcasters, so there is a definite skill in being able to tell an audience of millions how football matches are won and lost.
“Emma has more of an insight into that than most, as a coach, because the coach’s job is part-teacher and in a sense so is the co-commentator’s job, so the communications skills that she has in her job at Chelsea give her a head start perhaps on somebody who hasn’t coached, but it’s not a given.
“She’s had to learn a completely new discipline and Emma has taken to it quickly because she’s given it thought. But it’s not an accident – she’s done it with a lot of diligence, as well as her ingrained knowledge of football.
“Social media is a pretty unforgiving place for sports broadcasters and particularly for co-commentators, so the fact she has been so well-received tells you that she’s resonating with many, many people.”
And Hayes is not the women’s game’s only leading figure to have shone during these Euros, with Eni Aluko, Alex Scott, Karen Carney and Everton’s Izzy Christiansen among those working for the BBC television, ITV and Radio 5 live. And that’s no surprise to Oatley.
“In the women’s game, a lot of these ex-players have degrees. On the contrary to it being a negative having played the women’s game, it can be a positive in that there’s that added layer of education, reflection and studying the game that a lot of them have done,” Oatley said.
“And maybe it’s them having to try that little bit harder to be able to forge their next career, whereas in the men’s game, if you’re a big name, you already know your phone is going to ring.”