Interview

‘This result shows the growth of the team’

Montemurro

We guaranteed Champions League football next season as we beat Birmingham City 1-0 on Sunday.

Katie McCabe popped up with the game’s only goal in the 79th minute - and as a result, we’ll return to Europe’s top table for the first time in over five years.

We spoke to Joe Montemurro about his side’s achievement - and this is what he said:

on Birmingham’s organisation…
That’s why they are always in the top part of the league, this is always such a tough place to come. I thought they took control for 20 minutes or so in the second half when we were trying to force the killer pass and we made quite a lot of errors and we allowed them to catch us in transition moments. They’re a very tough team but to get the win shows the growth and the character of the team.

on his half-time team talk…
I thought there was one area where they could hurt us. They were overloading us with their full-back on the right hand side and we thought one of our number sixes was jumping in and letting her out, so we wanted to stop that. In the final third we just needed to take a little more time and place the ball into the net instead of trying to blast it in. Katie did place it in in the end and that made the difference. But they were getting us in transition in the middle of the second half because we were trying to force that final pass.

on securing Champions League football for next season…
It was one of our big objectives for the season and what we’ve been working for. We want to be the best team in England and the best team in Europe and you have to be competing at that level and it’s an honour to bring the team back after five years away. All credit goes to the staff, the players and the belief they have created in the group.

on pulling Birmingham out of position and scoring on the counter…
We got the ball in very good positions, especially in the first half and we just lacked a bit of timing in when to play the ball and when to cut inside. So we inverted the wingers so that Katie McCabe and Beth Mead could come inside and that was what made the difference.

on remaining focused…
There is absolutely no way I’ll be able to stop them singing and chanting on the bus and I expect them to and they deserve it. We’ve got a tricky game against Everton at Meadow Park and then we’ve got Brighton and they’re all different challenges that we have to be prepared for.

on Tabea Kemme’s return from injury…
Tabea’s been through a hard time this year and we’ve felt a lot of the injuries, like Dan Carter and Viki Schnaderbeck. The group have been really affected by it and to see them back and part of what we’re trying to achieve is brilliant.

on whether we could see Emma Mitchell and Lia Walti before the end of the season…
It’s hard to say but at least now we’re in a position where we’ve got more players available and we’ll take all the time we need with them to make sure they’re in perfect condition because we don’t want either of them to break down again so we’ll do what’s right for them.