Jonas Eidevall spoke to the media after our 2-1 win against Aston Villa Women at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Here's what he had to say on Beth Mead's impact, her relationship with Alessia Russo and the mentality of the team...
on being able to energise the crowd and what was different to the game against Liverpool:
I think we were far better in our decision making in terms of when to cross or when to go for the final pass, or when to make an extra pass. I think our team shape was much, much better. We are higher as a team, we suffocate the opponents more. You can see even if we don't get first contact on passes, then we have another player who can pick up the ball again. So the number of counter pressures that we did today far exceeds what we have done in the first two games of the season. That's stacking situations on top of each other. The crowd got energised [late on], but I also think that's from the first half as well. When the players are engaging with a crowd, it works two ways. I think it was a much better energy at the stadium today than it was against Liverpool. That's important because it's almost those tangible things. Why are we able to to create that momentum in the last 20 to 25 minutes of the game? I think the crowd plays a huge part in that. So does the team but without each other? I don't know if that's possible. So I think it's both and that makes me very happy.
on the role of our substitutes:
They made a big difference. I think when we lost Stina at half time against Aston Villa in in May, we barely had another attacking sub to make. And now we almost have an abundance. There are some players on the bench today who practiced really, really well. It's just that the decisions go with other players because I think that's the thing that's going to give us the best opportunity to win the game. But I think you can see in the second half that for each substitution, we became a little bit more aggressive. We became a little bit more offensively structured. As a coach, you probably like that when you score that to one goal that you have one more sub left and ask, “Do we need to have this offensive line up at this time here?” It's still six, seven minutes to play. But as a mentality, of course, it was really important that we were going for it.
on the quality of the goals from Katie McCabe:
I think the first goal is a really good goal because it highlights some things. Our ability to press has not been good enough in the first two games of the season. We press too little and we have given the opponents too much time and space. I think we were far better with that today. Much more intent to press from our midfield and victorious winning the ball over there in a really good challenge to set that situation up. We have our goalkeeper coach Sebastian Barton, alongside Kelly Smith, and they're working with our strikers to see for the goalkeepers that we're playing against, what would be potentially the types of finishes that would be be most effective against them. And without exposing any weaknesses to the goalkeeper, I would say the goal and the finish over there, it's just a prime example of how that worked. A great left foot from Katie McCabe and she took on the information from two great footballing minds in Kelly Smith and Sebastian Barton.
on Beth Mead’s return lifting the crowd:
It makes me happy because she deserves that reception. She’s worked so hard. She’s had a really difficult year, both being injured and her mum passed away. We know that it’s been incredibly tough for her and it’s so nice to see her being back on the pitch, seeing her being able to perform straight away. You never know that. You have to hope, otherwise I would never have put her on, but you don’t know it until you’ve seen it and that was very nice, so a special moment.
on the mentality of the team to break down Aston Villa:
Like I said after the game against Manchester United with the goal that we scored there, that comes from good decision making as well. If football would’ve been a sport where the easiest thing is to just kick the ball long and hope for the best, then that’s what we would be doing from the first second, but football is not a sport like that. Football is about taking a lot of good decisions, having possession and then waiting and creating the right moments for it. That’s the hardest part, when you don’t have a result, because if you’re winning 2-0 it’s not difficult to do that because then everything is going in your favour, you don’t need to stress and you can wait for the moment. But when you’re chasing something, it’s a little bit different and that’s where you need to stay really mentally strong and still trust those good decisions, even if people go ‘just shoot’ or ‘pass’ in that situation, maybe it’s better to make another pass, maybe it’s better to setup the situation. The second goal is a prime example. If Beth Mead just takes a shot it’s going to be a blocked shot and maybe a transition against us, but that’s what makes her special, that she knows the shot is not on. It’s going to get blocked, so she sets up a really good pass to Alessia Russo instead and it’s a goal. I think that is so important and it’s such a good moment, showing what mental strength can look like on a football pitch, because sometimes we think it’s just about working hard and thinking about the next action and not giving up, but those decisions there, for me when I speak mental strength in football, those are the most important ones. To not stress, to be able to understand that ‘I need to make another pass in this situation here’ and then trust a teammate to finish it.
on Beth’s assist in her first game back:
It’s huge. You make a comparison to the Liverpool game and, for those of you who were here, how many times did Liverpool block shots from us in the box? It’s such a massive part of it to have that understanding if my shot is going to be blocked in this situation or do we need another pass to setup the teammate. Beth Mead is extremely good and extremely intuitive in those moments, but that’s what I mean when I say she’s coming onto the pitch and will she get that straight away? Sometimes you don’t, but she does obviously because she’s Beth Mead and we’re happy about that.
on if it’s the start of a strong relationship between Beth and Alessia:
Let’s hope so, definitely. We’ve seen them together in the national team, so it’s not a hope that is based on just fantasies. We have seen that work in realities so let’s hope that, but we have a lot of good relationships going on.
on managing Beth’s recovery and when she can be back in contention for England:
Sarina Wiegman’s job, I can’t really comment on because I don’t see all the players that she has the opportunity to select, so no idea. How do we manage Beth? It’s not like she’s coming on from here doing 15 minutes and now she’s a 90 minute player from here on. It doesn’t work like that, but we work closely with the medical team, like we have been doing all the way here now until she was able to be selected for the squad. We’ll continue to take good decisions, which is not too defensive, to not allowing her to play, but certainly also not too offensive or optimistic where we are taking risks that we’re not willing to take. It’s really important that we manage this return to play process in a good way and that has not ended yet just because she did 15 minutes on the pitch today.
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