Carly Telford column: “It was one of the worst 10 days we’ve had together”

Notts County and England goalkeeper Carly Telford is back after a brief break to discuss all things international football. On how Mark Sampson is preparing his side for the Euro’s, players coming to the end of their careers and those that already have…


England not finished tinkering yet

I think Mark [Sampson] has realised that a lot of teams can come unstuck once you start to figure out how you’re going to play and that’s not to say the likes of France aren’t the best in the world but the shock factor with us at the World Cup was that our opponents had no idea what they were coming up against.

We changed personnel, we changed formation and Mark has tried to add a few more strings to the bow. Now if we come to the Euro’s it won’t be a big shock if we need to change formation because we’re well drilled, we might not even need the diamond or the 3-5-2 but if we do need them then we’re in a good position to use them if necessary.

The beauty of what’s happened with our game is that we have a very strong pool of 30/40 players so you can’t pinpoint a strongest XI anymore. Against Estonia we had players with about 250 caps between them sat on the bench or the stands and we’d have never had that 5 or 10 years ago. It’s kind of scary that there’s another 8 months for youngsters like Leah Williamson, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh to improve and make a case for inclusion because it’s strong enough as it is. I wouldn’t like to be in Mark’s shoes when he has to pick that squad in June next year.

What’s fantastic about Mark is he has an open door policy. We have a lot of meetings to discuss the games, what we’re doing right and wrong and after the Belgium and Bosnia games it was one of the worst 10 days we’ve had together. We’d come off the back of battering teams and then we came a little bit unstuck and we didn’t know whether we were fatigued or just plainly getting it wrong.

We were still playing defensive, counter-attacking football which we didn’t really need to do against that kind of opposition and Mark decided to go back to 3-5-2 against the lesser nations because we could exploit them with our pace out wide. Our role has swapped now, we used to be the team that would go to the big sides and start defensively but now we have teams doing that to us, they’re going to sit and we have to learn to deal with that.

It’s easy to forget just how young Mark is, you could argue he’s got an old head on young shoulders for what he’s done but he’s still learning, he’s learning about the media, the opponents and he’s growing with the team as we move along together. He’s constantly looking at how to improve; he’s a student of the game because he’s always looking to learn something. People don’t see a lot of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, fans think so and so should be playing but Mark looks at the team dynamics and he has a list of about 10 to 20 things he goes through to pick his squad for qualifiers, never mind the games. He’s a really good guy but he’s still learning, the whole coaching staff is still learning but they’re all learning very, very quickly.


End of an era?

It will be a decision from the players regarding who might go after the Euro’s next year, the girls don’t know yet what their future holds but I’m sure a few are starting to think that they might be coming to the end of their England careers. Some are doing coaching badges and have families and being away for so long can be difficult.

We might see some hang on for another year, it will be sad because there is a huge chunk of the squad approaching the end of their careers but I think that’s where the benefit of having so many youngsters coming through shows. I haven’t even thought about it, Bass is my roommate so I hope she doesn’t but it’s completely up to them what they do.

You never know, it will be really sad if it happens but if we go out with a bang in the Netherlands next year then some might view it as a good time to step down from international football. The young players shouldn’t get frustrated, their chances will come. It’s not a too dissimilar situation for me, obviously I’m in the squad but of course you want to play but as long as you play well and keep your feet on the ground you’ll get your opportunity.

He looks at things every weekend, England have scouts at every FA WSL match to analyse players that are in the squad and players that could come into the squad so he’ll know who’s ready, who isn’t and who might need moving on next year. I’d love to say I know loads about what the future holds but I know Mark and Marieanne have a good relationship and he always brings 3 or 4 of the Next Gen girls into the squad to keep an eye on them.

Millie Bright has been given her opportunity now because she’s done so well when she’s trained with us and she’s earned that opportunity. Marieanne being in charge of that squad is important because she can then work with Mark on who deserves a chance, they compile their scout reports on absolutely everyone and he knows exactly what every player can offer him should he choose to pick them.


France and Germany transition

It doesn’t surprise me too much that so many players stepped down off the back of the Olympics. You can keep going forever but the Germans have won almost everything at some point so when do you say ‘enough is enough’?

There’s a point in time where you realise that but with France it’s different. Everyone hangs their hat on them to win it whenever a tournament comes around but they always fall short and maybe some have just had enough of coming second. As a footballer you can go on forever so eventually you have to call it a day.

The manager change is interesting too, you’d think some players would stick around to see if things change but for us it’s good to hear that some of the best players are retiring but it’s also sad because we’ve grown up playing against those players.

For Mark, he’s very one minded so he’ll just focus on us because we can only control what we can do. We can’t control what France and Germany do, they’re not just going to become bad teams because they’ve lost a manager and a couple of players. Like us, they’ll have youngsters coming through who are ready for that step up so it will still be a huge challenge.

I don’t think Mark will be worried about it but he’ll keep an eye on any new players, any changes to the way those teams play so there are no big surprises when we arrive in Holland next year. Hopefully it makes it a more exciting tournament and a bit more open but as I said, it’s sad that those players won’t be around anymore.


Read more from Carly here!

Follow Carly on Twitter at @carlytelford1


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