Carly Telford column: “We’re trying so hard to get it right that we can end up getting it wrong”

Notts County and England goalkeeper Carly Telford is back to discuss how the Lady Pies are preparing for the second half of the FA WSL season plus how England got back to form against Serbia.

England bounce back

Apart from when we got together earlier this year for the SheBelieves Cup, we’ve never really lost or struggled under Mark Sampson. As a team we have been on such a high rise over the past few years and now we’re having to go out against the so-called ‘lesser’ teams and be a bit more patient.

We’re expected to go out, perform and score goals but in the last couple of games before the Serbia match, the main thing that disappointed us was the way we were playing because we knew we could play a lot better. It wasn’t a case of us going against Mark or what he believes in, but we all looked at those games against Belgium and Bosnia and we didn’t get the performance or the results right. So we sat down and we looked at that and decided to go back to a diamond formation, to change it up and really have a go at teams.

You can leave yourself very vulnerable in the diamond and I think against the better nations we weren’t ready to defend properly but combining with how we defended at the World Cup, we’re now a lot more confident to play fluidly in all kinds of different formations. Unfortunately for Serbia, they got the hiding of their lives; their coach told Mark they’d never come up against a side that could go at them for the first 10 minutes like we did but sustain it for the whole game.

It was good for us to restore that belief in front of goal. It doesn’t matter how well you play if you don’t score and as a team it’s always better to come off the pitch after a game like the Serbia one. Mark’s very adaptable as a coach – it works both ways. We always get our individual and team clips and we’ll give our feedback on that to the coaches and they’ll go away and look at how to improve for future matches. Mark will set his stall out at camp about how we’ll play and as players we trust him. He’s earned that trust and it’s good for us that he’s adaptable – he wants to win but he wants to win in the best way possible.

Time away

It’s always nice to get away and clear your head. It’s been a bit weird in that we’ve only played five league games yet almost half your season is gone already. We’ve had cup games too but it all goes so quickly so it was nice to go away to Seattle for a week after England duty and see a few familiar faces.

I spent some time with [Rachel] Corsie and Kimmy [Kim Little] and a few others and it’s always good to have a change of scenery every now and again. I hadn’t been to the States on holiday for ages and Rachel’s hosts were really good to me, really accommodating, and made me feel very welcome out there.

It’s a great lifestyle they’ve got out there – Seattle is fantastic although the weather was a bit grey, a little like it’s been here lately. I think I took a few too many pairs of shorts and not enough pairs of jeans. But it is always nice to spend a little bit of time away from football – I just misjudged the weather. All the girls said it had been red hot the week before but I literally went back home from England duty, packed and went straight to Heathrow – I had no time to look at the weather and I got that wrong a little bit!

Still looking for consistency

It’s frustrating to still lack some consistency but it’s been hard this season as the coaches have tried to bring out a new side in us – for us to be less predictable and try to hit certain teams on the counter attack. In some games, like Liverpool, it’s worked brilliantly but in other games, where teams have sat back and done the same to us, we’ve lacked a certain something to get over the line.

That’s something we have to look at and sit down as a team and maybe in certain games we have to go back to our old way of playing to get the result we want: scrappy goals instead of creating 20 chances and not scoring because we were trying to score the perfect goal, which we did really well against Liverpool.

But in both games against Birmingham, we were trying to get it so right that we actually got it so wrong and they were just countering us every time we gave the ball away. It’s a tricky problem to solve but we have to believe that what we’re trying to do is going to come good for us. We’ve got good players and a lot of potential too.

As a team, we’ve had a good off-season. We’ve worked really hard and we’ve looked hard at the kind of goals we’ve conceded and how to stop that. We’ve had to look at whether it’s mental or physical – are we fit enough to get to the end of the game playing how we do?

We probably couldn’t ask for a better game on Sunday to see what we’re made of. It’s Doncaster’s first game where maybe they think they can get three points. We know the quality they hold and it’s a big game for both teams. When we play the likes of Belles and Reading and teams just below us, we have an expectation that we should be picking up points in those matches.

They’re bottom of the league so they’ve nothing to lose now – it can only get better for them. They have a new manager too. It’s probably been a difficult few weeks because it’s unsettling when you’re not sure who your manager is going to be – it’s an awkward period for a player. But Emma Coates has been announced – I played with her briefly at Leeds United – the girls at Belles will know her well and they’ll adapt to her tactics pretty quickly I imagine.

Read more from Carly here!

Follow Carly on Twitter @carlytelford1

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