The last month hasn’t seen much competitive football played by the Lionesses unfortunately, but that’s not stopped the hard work going on in the background, on the training pitch, in the gym and an important part of this is continuing to build a culture and philosophy for success.
Head Coach Melissa Phillips has now been in charge a couple of months, overseeing a strong performance against Leicester and with the team holding their own against Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League side Arsenal. It was a disappointing that the Charlton fixture was a casualty of the incremental weather and the health and safety of players and staff (following some positive Covid-19 tests) thwarted the team eagerly anticipated opportunity to test themselves against Chelsea in the final group game of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup.
The task In the international break is to make sure the Lionesses are prepared for a return to league action on the 6th December and make sure that the philosophy and style Phillips is implementing with the team has another opportunity to really shine through.
Phillips is a strong believer in having a good work ethic and we caught up to learn a little more about her thinking.
So why is work ethic so important and how does she want the squad to work on controlling the controllables. Phillips explained “We talk about the pillars of performance, being in compete mindset, how you operate within your position and what that looks like tactically."
“But the compete in the mindset piece of it, is massive for us as a team, as is being forward-thinking, looking at challenges as opportunities for growth and really just having the mindset where we build belief into each other and there's been a huge focus for us on positive communication."
“You can pick each other up and encouraging each other to do the right things within training sessions. And it just creates good energy and a good vibe amongst the group. So, it's been a massive focus of ours and something that I feel will really lead us to long-term success”.
Lionesses midfielder, Lucy Fitzgerald, has been clear in showing that the players are behind Phillips’ philosophy and methods. When asked about the team’s progression and whether they can push for the top three she replied, “We're really improving every single day, on the training pitch and in games."
“Obviously we have had a challenging start, new players coming in and changes going on. But I think we're just going to keep improving throughout the season. I think if we keep performing like we have been in the last few weeks then I think we can go up the table and really push as high as we can. So, I think we've got belief in the squad that we can get much higher in the table than where we are at the moment”.
The Lionesses are currently sitting 8th in the table 11 points behind Durham at the top but do have 1 or 2 games in hand on all those above them.
The next game is against Coventry United, who sit a point below the Lionesses and with Crystal Palace 1 point above and having played more games, there is clearly scope to climb up the table before the Christmas break.