Notts County and England goalkeeper Carly Telford talks to The Offside Rule about how Notts County have prepared for Wednesday’s big kick-off and the impact of the first SheBelieves Cup.
LadyPies ready for action
It’s great to finally get our squad together and know where we are, going into the Manchester City game on Wednesday night. Chelsea [Weston] had been training with us throughout pre-season, so it was great to finally see her back on the pitch and getting some minutes with us during the friendly games. She’s not 100% yet, but when Chelsea is fully fit, she’s up there with the best.
I had wind of Aivi [Luik] coming in at the start of last week, which is really exciting for me, as I’ve known Aivi for three years now. She was away with the Matildas as they qualified for the Rio Olympics; unfortunately, she had to go back to Australia some way through that with a pulled quad. But I know Aivi well, and knowing the way she is, she’ll settle well with us over here; she’s already got a few friendly faces around that she knows.
Then you’ve got Yanks [Rachel Yankey], who none of us had a Scooby Doo about! I found out on social media like everybody else, but you don’t need to say anything else about Rachel Yankey, since she speaks volumes for herself. I know Bass [Laura Bassett] knows her well, so I don’t know if she was giving her a nudge on the sly in the background! But it’s nice to get another leftie after losing Alex; you lose some quality, but fortunately, we’ve replaced that. We’ve obviously brought in Angharad [James] and Maja [Krantz] too, so we’re excited to get going now.
New season ambition
Now we have to just keep moving in the same direction as we did in 2015, keep putting more points on the board, and show people that we’re improving all the time. Compared to some of the bigger clubs, we might not be the biggest name, but we’ve got a great fan base, we’ve got some top internationals in our squad, and in-house, we have a good idea of what we think we can achieve during 2016. Keeping hold of the majority of our squad from last season was a big thing for us, but we have to improve on our goals conceded column – that’s something I pride myself on a lot.
In 2014, I let only nine or ten goals in all season, but that figure doubled last year, even though the goals we scored doubled too. Last year, we had to chop and change our defence so much, but the year before, we had a set defence of Sophie Walton, Bradders [Sophie Bradley], Rachel Corsie, and Amy [Turner]. Last season, you could argue we had Bass, Fern [Whelan], Amy [Turner] sometimes at centre-back, Alex Greenwood at centre-back, and we had a lot of rotation regarding where people played – we had no consistency at the back. Whilst we were scoring two or three in games last season, we were dropping points because we were conceding two or three too, so that’s something we need to improve on.
SheBelieves made us believe
Mark [Sampson] made a really good point to us when we went to America; before a European Championship or a World Cup, you might only touch base with a team like the USA once in four years. So when it comes down to those major competitions, you haven’t played a team that you can learn from for a few years. It looks great on paper, and for the stats, when it says you’ve beaten everyone around you 5 or 6-0, but what are you actually learning as a team and as individuals from games like those?
So, Mark jumped at the invitation to go and be involved in the SheBelieves Cup for the first time, which was a huge honour for us as a country. The Cyprus Cup was good for us when it was first introduced, and it put us up against sides like Canada, so we could compete and understand where we were. But once you’ve won it a couple of times, you need to take it to the next level, and we learned a lot about ourselves out there in America. These teams aren’t miles ahead of us technically, but their mentality over the years was a long way ahead of ours. America look good, they feel good, and they know they can turn up and win, and it hasn’t been very English to feel that way for a long time!
England’s confidence boost
But now we’re starting to compete in these games, we don’t have to feel that way now. You want to go into every game wanting to win it, but there’s also been that fear of not wanting to get pumped – that’s what we’re trying to change now. We don’t want to sit back and wait for them to come at us, we want to go against them and show them what we can do.
Mark really showed that in patches during the tournament; it wasn’t as consistent as we would have liked, but you could see it was there. A year ago, we’d have parked ourselves, but this time, the mindset was to try and attack when we could, and do some damage to them. A few of the girls were talking after the games about how some of the teams weren’t that much better than us, and that we really could take it to them – that’s a belief that we’ve never had as a squad before. It’s becoming more natural for us now to feel that way; there’s an aura around some players in the Germany or the France teams, and we want to get from being the team that has the potential to a team that also has that aura.
Going on the defensive
Mark is very tactical, very structural, and incredibly diligent in everything he does. His plan was to make sure we were one of the best defensive sides in the world; everyone hates playing against us because they know we’re very good at it now. That’s fantastic – but we now need to counteract that by giving us the ball and saying ‘we’re going to attack the living daylight out of you’. We’ve shown we’re tough to break down, and we’re now in that transition of turning that into attacking football, and Mark fully believes in what he is doing – with the attacking talents that we have, you will see in the Euros that we will be all-out attack, and that teams will have to do something very special to get past us!
The attackers obviously want to be up front instead of coming back and defending, but I think they’re now starting to buy into what we’re doing, and they know eventually they’ll be allowed to be relentless, win the ball back high up the pitch, and make it a living hell for the other team’s defenders.
Read more from Carly here!
Follow Carly on Twitter @carlytelford1