Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football Marieanne Spacey-Cale talks through her side’s pre-season preparations ahead of the Barclays Women’s Championship opener against Charlton Athletic.
Ahead of the new season and a debut in the Barclays Women’s Championship, Saints ramped up preparation both on and off the pitch. Reflecting on pre-season and the move to a full-time programme, Spacey-Cale commented:
“I’ve been pleased with the games that we have played, both the external ones and the internal ones, but I also think we’ve been settling into this period of everything being a bit new.
“So, we’ve broken down pre-season into three sections of preparation, adjustment and competition.
“They’ve been adjusting to the full-time programme, getting used to this being their profession now for the players, which is new for them, and then preparation for the competition that we’re going into.”
The Women’s side added seven new players over the closed season ahead of that new competition and Spacey-Cale was positive about what those players add to her squad:
“We’ve brought some good personalities in. They’re good people who’ve got real aspirations to be with us into the next stage of our growth.
“So, on the pitch, they’ve brought experience, they’ve brought real enthusiasm and they’ve brought a different level of having played in the Championship or Women’s Super League before.
“They know what to expect and what’s good is that they’re sharing that expectation with the players that aren’t quite sure and haven’t played at that level on a consistent basis.
“Off the pitch, they’re really good people and they’ve settled in really well. We’re building this whole squad ethos again; we want to be strong together, we want to have personalities that are strong-minded and let people know what they need to be doing but in a positive way that brings performance to another level.”
Those new additions will be available for the Women’s opening Championship game against Charlton Athletic at St Mary’s, and Spacey-Cale was under no illusions about the challenge that they will be facing:
“We have to respect Charlton, like we’ll respect every team in this league. Like I said, it’s such a competitive league this year and every game is a challenge.
“I know Karen Hills will have her team prepared as best she can. They’ll be coming in and saying you might be new kids on the block, but we’re here, we’re established and we’re coming in to win the game.”
“We have to be ready to perform at our best, but to find our feet at the same time. It might be a little bit cat and mouse at the start, and a bit cagey, but I think once the girls get over the first ten, fifteen minutes, we can start being more secure and playing as a unit, and look to play our exciting football that we know we can.”