Few matches arrive with a lot jeopardy simply 9 video games right into a 22-game season however on the eve of the Women’s Super League winter break, Sunday’s assembly of Leicester City and Birmingham couldn’t really feel any extra tense.
For each groups, who’re separated by the only level Birmingham collected from a 1-1 draw with West Ham in October, with new managers employed final month, taking three factors at Filbert Way might swing fortunes and present step one away from the WSL’s single relegation place.
The bother although, for Leicester’s Lydia Bedford, the previous England ladies’s youth group head coach, and Birmingham’s interim head coach, Darren Carter, is to steadiness the necessity to win with the larger image.
“We have 11 games left this season and what the players can’t do is put all their eggs in one basket this weekend and think about the result,” cautioned Bedford. “The performance is really important. If we get a performance and a result on Sunday it will help us launch that into the second half of the season. If we get a performance and not the result then we know we are progressing.”
Carter believes his Birmingham gamers are “not naive enough to think otherwise” when requested if this recreation is as massive because it will get. “We both find ourselves in a position where we’re fighting for points and looking for that first league win, so it’s an important game but it’s definitely not going to define the season for either team,” he added.
Being reduce adrift from Aston Villa, who sit in tenth place, 9 factors away from Birmingham and 10 of Leicester, makes placing respiration room between the groups important. Birmingham did remarkably effectively to keep away from relegation final time period with Carla Ward, now at Villa, working wonders to maintain the Blues up in opposition to the chances, whereas Leicester have didn’t register a single level within the WSL having been promoted following a dominant Championship season.
With two new managers, there are many unknowns. “I think it adds to the mystery of it to some extent as both managers have had just one or two games to be able to implement what they wanted to do,” stated Bedford. “I went down to watch Birmingham against London City Lionesses [in the League Cup] when we finished training. Both managers have had very little time to influence. You have to trust your players to some extent to go out and do what they are expected to do, which is work hard together to try to get a result. It will be an interesting one.”
Bedford formally started her position with Leicester on 6 December, a day after they earned a powerful penalty win over Manchester United within the League Cup, however misplaced 4-0 to the league leaders, Arsenal, in her first and solely recreation within the Leicester dugout.
Leicester supervisor Lydia Bedford places her gamers by way of their paces in coaching on Friday. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City/Getty Images
Carter, in the meantime, has seen his group rating 4 targets in two video games, twice taking the lead in opposition to Manchester City earlier than an 89th-minute objective from Ellen White gave the guests a 3-2 win. They got here from two targets down in opposition to London City within the League Cup earlier than dropping on penalties. Given Birmingham had scored two targets of their earlier 11 video games, the influence has been quick.
“The one thing I noticed straight away from watching the previous games before I came in was that the mentality was always to drop and be on the back foot rather than be on the front foot,” he stated. “It’s easy to say these things, but to go and put it into practice is asking the players to be brave, and I certainly think they’ve been that since I’ve come in. We’ve asked them to go and press higher up the pitch and ultimately that’s allowed us to transition and get more entries into the final third.
“So I think what you’ve seen the last two games especially is that we’ve rewired that mindset.We don’t want to be a defensive team, we don’t want to just sit in and soak up pressure and hit teams on the counterattack, that’s not my DNA, wasn’t as a player and certainly won’t be as a coach.
“I want us to be on the front foot, I want us to impose ourselves on the game and we’ve got some real talented forward players in the squad and you want to utilise them and get them into the positions where they are going to shine.”
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With the return fixture in February, there may be hope, notably given Reading’s defeat of Chelsea and Brighton claiming some extent off Arsenal, that each groups can decide up factors elsewhere.
“If you look at our Manchester United game [in the cup] a few weeks ago, the players pulled off a bit of a result there already,” stated Bedford. “Each weekend there’s a few surprise results which you think you might not have called. I imagine we’ll be in a position if we get our gameplans right … to pick up points against multiple teams and that’s the aspiration.”