The AWFC Journal: A tale of chances taken and missed

The AWFC Journal – A tale of chances taken and missed
A new page of the AWFC Journal was long overdue, I know.

It’s been a while and more precisely since the home draw to Chelsea, which left a bittersweet aftertaste. Although we comfortably dispatched Aston Villa in the Conti Cup (3-0) and Leeds United in the FA Cup (9-0), I need to go back to that home game against Emma Hayes’ team because it kind of confirms the main point I am about to make.

That afternoon, the result was decided by Sam Kerr, a world-class striker whose ability to score out of nowhere made the whole difference for outcome of the game and possibly for the league campaign.

Sam Kerr

She was quiet the whole game, not much involved even when Chelsea threatened Manuela Zinsberger, but was at the right place, at the right time when it mattered the most and helped Chelsea to a crucial draw at the Emirates Stadium. By that time, Jonas Eidevall’s team had multiple chances to put the game to bed but failed to convert them and, whether that was because of bad luck, the goalkeeper’s heroics or a lack of composure, it is not the first time it happened this season. I am worried that it will prove unforgivable when the season ends.

I guess you see where I am going with this one, right?

It’s little consolation to see that Caitlin Foord scored against Aston Villa or that all our strikers, including promising youngster Michelle Agyemang, were on the scoresheet against Leeds United, because it feels like we missed the biggest chance of all when we didn’t secure the services of an additional striker in the January transfers window.

Obviously, you don’t replace Beth Mead or Vivianne Miedema so easily and I understand that the market is very complex as all the top-tier players already play in big clubs, which of course are reluctant to reinforce a direct rival mid-season, but it felt like there was no plan, no strategy. Going after Alessia Russo and Signe Bruun was very ambitious but doing that so late in the window with so little chance of actually pull it off, smelled like desperation more than planification. That’s the impression I get, at least.

Alessia Russo

At this point, I believe I would have preferred a very clear indication from Jonas Eidevall that our injured forwards were irreplaceable and that he trusted Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord, Lina Hurtig, Katie McCabe and Gio Queiroz to step-up and share the burden.

At least it would have been good for the team morale.

Instead, we got the door shut right in our face by both Manchester United and Olympique Lyon and we sent the wrong message to our forwards, saying “we would have loved to get someone better than you but we couldn’t”, then expect them to do the job they weren’t entirely trusted to do. Jonas Eidevall will have to be very good at(re)motivating his troops, find different ways to score goals and, most importantly, work with his forwards to enable one of them to flourish in a way that he didn’t expect or foresee.

The talent is there, it’s all about making the players tick and elevate their confidence, as well as their composure in front of the goal. Stina Blackstenius has many goals in her and can be the leading force for our title challenge, but she needs to be calmer in front of goal and it is Jonas Eidevall’s job to drive this change. I have little doubts that our forwards can score the goals we need to compensate what the absentees won’t be able to provide but I feel they need some help and support and I truly hope they will get it from the coaching staff.

Stina Blackstenius

Next up is West Ham away, on Sunday, to keep the pressure up on both Manchester United and Chelsea, both three points ahead of us but with one extra game played. After that, we will play Manchester City twice in three days, first at home in the Conti Cup semifinals and then away in the league.

Goals will be needed, that’s for sure: who is going to score them?

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