Interview

‘We had a gameplan and controlled it throughout’

Montemurro

Joe Montemurro took charge of his first-ever Champions League fixture on Thursday night, as we beat Fiorentina 4-0 in the first leg of the last-32 clash.  

Our head coach opted for three at the back, with Katie McCabe and Leonie Maier either side of Jennifer Beattie - and we dominated the game from start to finish, showing composure in front of goal and maturity in defence.

We spoke to Montemurro after the game and this is what he said:

on whether that was one of their most mature performances…
It’s certainly one of them. One of the best things about it is that we were able to adjust according to the game and the way they set themselves up, and that shows a lot of growth in the work that we’ve been doing, but also the quality of the players that we’ve got. We’ve built this team to be quite flexible so that they can adjust and adapt, but not only through me screaming at them, but through them finding the situation because of the way that we play.

on whether this game was largely a mental challenge…
Absolutely. I think it was a great test for us and that’s why I said Fiorentina were favourites. They’ve seen European nights, they understand it and feel it, and we haven’t. Our preparation and build-up for this game was very good, we had a gameplan and we controlled it throughout.

on what pleased him most…
We did say that it was going to be 180 minutes and we knew that it wasn’t about getting through tonight and that was it. We had that in mind and we managed the game very, very well in terms of controlling the tempo and pace and making the right decisions when we had to. It was a mature and professional performance.

on the edge you gain when you’re on a winning run…
When you’re dictating games, you’re controlling the physical output and that’s important for what we do and why we do what we do. We can control when we went to slow the game so that’s why maintaining possession is so important for us. When you’re winning you’ve always got that psychological space or breath that you take that seems to give you just that little bit more, so winning is always the best way to recover and go forward.

on saying that he wanted to play with three at the back at the end of last season - and implementing it here…
Tonight was probably the best example. We played with three plus one, but it’s a fluid three plus one. It’s not as if we’re just sitting with three central defenders, you could see that Leonie Maier and Katie McCabe were joining in on most moves. It’s just an extension of our movement, our fluidity and our ability to find spaces and create opportunities. It worked quite well tonight and the way they set themselves up played a little into our hands.

on what he will tell the players ahead of the second leg…
It’s another opportunity for us to be involved in a European night - and the more we get used to these situations and occasions where we are in charge, the better. For me it’s another step for us to learn, be better at what we do and gain more experience of European nights.