Post by Everton News. on Sept 20, 2019 9:30:46 GMT
Everton Women manager Willie Kirk writes the first of his new weekly column as he looks ahead to Sunday's WSL clash at home to Bristol City.
My opening column of the season comes as we prepare for our first home game of the WSL campaign against Bristol City on Sunday.
The match at Southport FC’s Pure Stadium gives us a chance to build on our opening-day 1-0 win at Birmingham City last weekend. That was a hard-fought and very important victory and was the first time Everton have won on the first day of a season since the Women’s Super League began in 2010.
It was key for this group of players and for the Club to put that record to bed and gave us a platform to build on going into our first home game.
Reflecting on our performance in the Midlands, we know we can play a lot better. We have to improve on our quality in possession, in terms of our movement and giving each other options on the ball. Our defensive structures will also need to improve.
In a way, though, we can take even more confidence out of the fact we didn’t get the performance we wanted, but still managed to get three points.
There were positives from the performance. The first 20 minutes of the game were excellent and the first 10 minutes for the second half were really good, too.
The message to the team now is to produce that for longer periods on Sunday and show more of the quality we know we have throughout our squad.
We had an excellent pre-season – winning six out of our seven warm-up matches – and beating Birmingham carries on that momentum.
It’s also been a great way for our summer signings to settle in at the Club for what remains a very young Everton squad.
While we have a very experienced goalkeeper in Tinja [Korpela], the average age of our outfield players at Birmingham was 21.6.
You will always get inconsistent performances from a young team, but that we have so much potential is very exciting.
We started four of our new signings, too last weekend: Tinja, Lucy Graham, who we signed from Bristol and who is our new on-field captain, and two teenagers - Molly Pike and Esme Morgan - who both played very well.
We’ve also signed experienced international players in France midfielder Maeva Clemaron and Dutch defender Kika van Es, who last week’s game came just too early for in terms of fitness.
We have brought in players who are technically competent, who tactically know the game and are open to learning. They have all integrated very well. I’m confident they will get stronger and stronger.
Last weekend was a very positive weekend for women’s football, with an upturn in attendances across the WSL.
There has been a definite feel-good factor around the women’s game since the World Cup in the summer.
Hopefully we can feel the benefit of that, too. I know our players relish playing in front of a big crowd. It has a real positive impact on them.
We hope to get as many fans cheering us on at Southport’s Pure Stadium and our move to Walton Hall Park – scheduled for next month – will hopefully provide a huge positive, too.
Relocating to the heart of Everton Football Club, so close to Goodison Park, and returning to the city will hopefully boost attendances and we want to build on the growing numbers of people watching women’s football.
If you’re an Evertonian, or even if you haven’t been to a football match before, I’d urge everyone to come to watch our team in action. I’m confident you’ll enjoy the standard of football and your support means so much to the team.
Free tickets are available to junior grassroots teams for this weekend's game against Bristol City. Click here to find out more.
This weekend we welcome Tanya Oxtoby and her Bristol City team to Merseyside. I had three very enjoyable years at Bristol as manager between 2015 and 2018, and it will be great to see some familiar faces.
Bristol had a fantastic season in 2018/19, finishing sixth in the league. We know Sunday’s game will be a tough challenge for us. They have made some changes to their squad and have brought in some real quality.
We’ll need to be on it to get the three points. If we can improve on our performance from last Sunday, we’ll give ourselves a good chance of making it two victories from two. I know we’re more than capable of doing that.
Post by Everton News. on Sept 20, 2019 9:32:43 GMT
In Willie Kirk's latest column, the Everton Women's manager looks ahead to Sunday's cup clash with Birmingham, explains why his team's physical effort in their 2-0 win over Bristol City last week was '"the best I have ever seen" and reveals that Chloe Kelly's spectacular strikes in that match came as no surprise...
We have a break from Women’s Super League action this week as we travel to the Midlands to take on Birmingham in our opening FA Continental Cup group-stage match.
They’ll be looking for revenge after we beat them on the first day of the season in the league but we’re determined to improve on our performance from that game. We were disappointed with that, even though we won the game. We were much, much better in the Bristol game, so can we improve further?
With Manchester City and Manchester United also in our group, we’ve been drawn in the toughest section, there is no doubt about that. But that’s the main reason we want to qualify.
People will automatically think it will be City and United to go through. We want to make sure we are in the top two and playing in a quarter-final at the turn of the year.
We go into Sunday’s game at Solihull buoyed by a solid start to the season which has seen us win our opening two WSL games.
We followed up our win against Birmingham City with a 2-0 victory against my former club Bristol City in Southport last Sunday. There were many facets of our performance in that game that were very pleasing. If you compare our statistics to our opening-day win at Birmingham, we had more shots, a greater percentage of efforts on target and more possession.
For me, though, the most striking aspect about the collective performance was our physical output. It was the best I’ve seen in my nine years in the women’s game.
That’s not just about getting players fit, it’s about getting the players tactically aware – that has a big part to play in their physical output. The energy and fitness levels they showed in offensive and defensive transitions was outstanding.
When I joined the Club last December, what I wanted to introduce was a real competitiveness. We wanted the players to compete with each other and the easiest way to do that is to aim to outrun, outsprint and outfight your teammates.
We had to make sure there was a competitiveness in training every single day. And without a doubt, we’ve got that.
And if we ever feel it is dropping for some reason, we gently remind the players there has to be that intensity.
We want our players to be able to physically dominate their opponents.
KELLY’S A REAL TALENT
Chloe Kelly is an incredible talent and her goals in our 2-0 victory over Bristol City last week are just a glimpse of what she is capable of.
Her second strike from 35 yards, in particular, has got a lot of attention. It’s something we see from her on a daily basis in training.
In fact, when it went in on Sunday, our substitute goalkeeper Kirstie Levell said: “It’s about time another WSL goalkeeper had to put up with that because I have to deal with it every day.” The power Chloe generates from a standing start is unbelievable.
She is a player with a big future. She has got a lot of improvements to make, especially out of possession. She can also improve her decision-making.
But her creativity and directness are things I love. She is huge player for me in terms of the way I want to play. We’re trying to improve her every day to make sure she hits the levels she is capable of. She has the ability to be a regular in the England squad.
Goals like Chloe’s highlight the quality that’s in the women’s game.
On a physical level, of course, it will never be the same as the men’s game. From a purely scientific perspective, that is impossible.
But we’re seeing things every week – Chloe’s strike is just one example – that show the gap is closing. The pace of the game is increasing all the time.
Some of our one-touch combination play against Bristol was fantastic. It wouldn’t look out of place in a men’s Premier League match.
We’re seeing the women’s game is a something that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.
Finally, I want to mention the excellent work our squad has been doing recently with Everton in the Community.
We had players out and about in Merseyside this week supporting one of the charity's mental health initiatives, Girl on Side, others meeting people at Knowsley Veterans' Hub, while a few of the girls helped out with an Under-13 disability football session.
We’re more than just a football club and we put a real focus on being grounded, being humble and being part of the community.
It’s even more important for us now we are moving to Walton Hall Park. We want to connect with people in L4.
When they take part in work for EitC, our players are always very engaged. They are good people and want to help and inspire others in any way they can.
Post by Everton News. on Sept 27, 2019 12:35:23 GMT
In his weekly column, Everton Women's manager Willie Kirk explains why his team must "be brave" and embrace the challenge of taking on Manchester City at Southport FC on Sunday (12.30pm). Kirk discusses how the match will give his players the chance to showcase their progress and details the steps the squad are taking to further enhance their strong team spirit...
We head into Sunday’s home match against Manchester City aiming to maintain our 100-per-cent record in the FA WSL.
We’ve won our opening two league games and were disappointed we could not build on that in last weekend’s Continental Cup game at Birmingham City. We were beaten 1-0 and didn’t play to anywhere near our potential.
We’ve tried to take some quick learnings from that game, but we’ve got to move on.
Like us, City have also won their opening two league matches. A few people have classed the match as first v second and, while it’s nice to be spoken of in those terms, it is very early days in the season.
It will be a tough game. They are a team with a lot of experience and, when you’ve got experience, you can solve problems on the pitch more easily.
We have got a lot of young players and we’re always learning. But we want to try to use the ball as well as we can and, when Man City have got it, try to control what they do with it.
It’s certainly a game we feel we can take something from.
City won the FA Cup and Continental Cup last season and finished runners-up in the league. Their quality goes without saying.
But it’s a challenge our players are looking forward to. They have got to want to play against this calibre of opposition.
They have got to want the ball. I’ve said that since the day I joined this club - we need players who are brave.
That’s not necessarily brave in terms of physical strength or being robust in challenges.
Brave, for me, is wanting the ball.
Brave is putting yourself in a position where you might make a mistake, but the dividends of that risk coming off are very high.
We want to play on the front foot. It’s not going to be a case of parking the bus or sitting in two blocks of four and soaking up pressure.
We’ve prepared well and are approaching the match with a positive mindset.
Post by Everton News. on Oct 28, 2019 21:49:45 GMT
In his latest column, Everton Women manager Willie Kirk discusses how his team have used their fortnight without a game, targeting a Blues double over Brighton this weekend, and the challenge now facing "marked woman" Chloe Kelly after she was named Barclays FA WSL Player of the Month...
I said after the 3-2 defeat at Reading that we needed to learn from that game because it is no secret we have conceded too many goals from set pieces in recent weeks. We spoke about it as a group and said it's a challenge we had to acknowledge, embrace and overcome, and that's what we've been working on during our fortnight without a fixture.
We had an in-house 11 v 11 last weekend, which allowed us to put into practice what we had been working on and provided much-needed game time for some of our players. For an in-house game, I can tell you there was no holding back. There was even a booking, so I think that tells you everything about the competition we've got for places and the desire and determination of the players to do well!
We also took the decision to let the players take ownership of the game. We gave them their squads but then asked them to sort their starting team, formation and tactical approach. It was all on them as a group and, collectively, they showed leadership and team work to carry out the task. I think they took a lot from the game as a whole but that was another positive for me and showed me the squad is in a good place.
A Brighton double?
We are hoping by the time we run out on Sunday, it will be with the chance to make it a doubly miserable weekend for Brighton. It's funny how it works when we end up facing the same opponents as the men's team. It happened when we played Manchester City earlier this season, so we know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of it and we don’t want a repeat.
We certainly don’t need the added motivation to get back to winning ways on Sunday but if the men can get a victory on the South Coast, that will be a big boost for everyone at the Club, and timely for us.
The backing we've had so far this season has been very vocal, enthusiastic and positive and that's undoubtedly helped the players. We understand it's not the easiest place to get to on a Sunday but, looking at our performances so far this season, I'm absolutely confident people will be pleased with what they see if they can get along to join us and we welcome all football fans and Evertonians to do that.
Brighton have had a tough start in terms of points collected but they earned good draws against Bristol and Chelsea, the former being away from home at the men’s stadium, something that will have provided a big lift to their opponents. They are well organised, aggressive in the press and hard to break down, as is always the case with Hope Powell teams.
They have, however, tried to be more progressive than they were last year and that's something we will look to use to our advantage if we can. We know it will be a tough game but, with our home support behind us, it is one we're going into confident we can get the three points.
Keep it up, Chloe!
I would like to congratulate Chloe Kelly on being named the Barclays FA WSL Player of the Month for September. Everyone will have seen Chloe’s two stunning goals against Bristol but it is a deserved reward for her all-round form.
We're always trying to add things to Chloe’s game and make her a better player because, as well as she is playing, I believe she's still only operating at 70 per cent of her huge potential. That’s the belief we have in Chloe.
I think teams now fear her and she will become a marked women as teams set out to stop her getting on the ball and kill her space.
Overcoming that is the next phase of her development and it is also on us as staff to unlock her attributes and use her in a way she can be most effective when that is happening.
There's a pressure of expectation of Chloe now and she's pushing to get a regular place in the England squad as well. Such challenges are what we want for our players and we’ll be doing everything to help and support her along the way.
Post by Everton News. on Nov 15, 2019 23:50:09 GMT
In his latest column for evertonfc.com, Everton Women's manager Willie Kirk says the Blues must embrace the chance to showcase their quality in Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield (3pm), pinpoints the key elements he wants to see from his team and reveals his hunger to make the Club's travelling support proud...
EMBRACE THE OCCASION
We’ve got a very big game on Sunday – the first women’s Merseyside derby to be played at Anfield – and we’re not going to play it down.
We have got to embrace the occasion, be excited about it and view it as a stage we can perform on. We want to entertain people and for the fans to go home from the match saying, ‘Everton are a really good team’.
We want to take the energy from the occasion and turn it into energy for ourselves.
There is no question of me playing the match down in any shape or form. If anything, I’m going to play it up. I’m going to try to use the occasion as a way to inspire the players.
BLENDING INTENSITY WITH QUALITY
The squad is buzzing ahead of the match. You get that after an international break, because they have not seen each other for a while. They are a good group and they get on very well.
On Sunday, our principles will remain the same in terms of the way we want to play – but we also want to make the improvements we have been working on.
We want to play with intensity, be creative, and be brave on the ball.
We have to play the situations. If there is space in behind, then use the space in behind. If there is space in between the lines, then use that.
We have got intelligent players who will find spaces on the pitch.
Then, it’s about changing the tempo of the game when the time is right and capitalising on moments when we can attack.
SHOWCASING OUR GAME
The Merseyside derby is one of a number of high-profile WSL matches taking place across Saturday and Sunday as part of the first-ever Women’s Football Weekend.
Every club has got a joint responsibility to try to grow the game. We’re no different.
We want to grow the game by inspiring young girls who come and watch the game to say to their parents, ‘I want to be a professional footballer’.
The way we can do that is by putting on a high-energy, committed performance and attacking the opposition. We want to excite people.
MAKING EVERTONIANS PROUD
We’ll have a strong following of Everton fans at Anfield on Sunday and I’d like to thank all those supporters who have bought tickets for the match. It’s given us all a big lift.
We’re eager to use the game as a springboard to help boost our home attendances. Everton is a huge club and we accept we have a responsibility to try to grow our following.
Hopefully, we’ll have 2,500 Evertonians leaving Anfield with three points and a big smile on their faces.
That feeling will hopefully encourage those supporters to keep backing us throughout the season and help us achieve further success.