As football has either been curtailed or will be returning, we’re rounding off our #ManagersAtHome series by speaking to Arsenal Women’s manager Joe Montemurro.
Joe started his managerial career in youth football in his native Australia, coaching teams such as Sunshine George Cross and Coburg United before entering the Women’s game with Melbourne Victory.
After guiding the team to their highest finish in the club's history, he landed the Melbourne City women’s job where he achieved further success, winning league titles via an Invincible season - something which caught Arsenal’s eye. Since being appointed as the Gunners girls head coach, Montemurro has made three cup finals, winning the League Cup in his first season and the league in his second season, playing a style of football which he stresses is extremely important to him.
“You are Arsenal, you are the most decorated women's team in English football and you do still have to get the results. I'm very much, I suppose, what's the word, gauged by the style that I play. Style is very very important to me and that always has to underpin the work that we do. Installing that style has been very, very important and the belief between the staff and the players to play that style is very important.
“Results will always be there but the style has to be the winner for us and the way we play has to be the winner and that's properly the most important thing. We've been fortunate enough along the way to have made pretty much every cup final we've played for that I've been involved in. We won the League Cup, and obviously won the league last year, which was a really big statement for us, and the way we did it was even more pleasing from my perspective.”
Montemurro has endured great success at Arsenal throughout the last three years
When asked about the difference in youth, women's and men's football, the Aussie was defiant that football is football and he doesn't see much of a difference as a coach.
“I've never really made the differentiation between men's and women's football, It's football for me. I coach football, I coach for the reasons, as I've said before the coaching process, the learning, the effect we have on players and more importantly a style and a methodology.
"A way in creating that group which we all believe in, staff and players so there weren't any real differences, I pretty much did exactly the same as I was doing in mens football that I did in women's football.”
Last week the FA crowned Chelsea as the WSL champions, as they leapfrogged Man City because of the decided points-per-game system. The reigning champions Arsenal were sitting in third and are likely to miss out on Champions League football next season. Despite the disappointment, Montemurro was pragmatic in his reaction, stating that this decision could benefit the women’s game for years to come.
“The FA are the gatekeepers of the game in the WSL and the Championship and their decisions are very difficult. We have to accept it, we have to learn from all this and hope that we don't have to go through this again.
“It’s looking more than likely that we won’t be qualifying for the 2020/21 Champions League campaign. It’s a disappointment because there was the opportunity to qualify which is something that we pencilled in. We would have loved the opportunity to finish the league, because we set ourselves up to finish strongly and build on from last year’s success.
“We’ll know in six months time how we all come out of this, we’ve been very focussed on making sure the players' individual welfare is being taken care of, they’re all on different levels and have reacted to it in different ways.
“The mental health and the wellbeing of each player has been a real catalyst for us at Arsenal. A lot of the players have been playing in World Cup and Euro campaigns so have had the opportunity to have a break, and from our perspective we’re looking to help them refresh, reset and to love the game again.
“The game as a whole, I’ve been asked can we finish the league but I think the effects would have been felt. Finishing the league, going straight into another league, playing in an Olympics and then going straight into a Euro’s. So I think we’ll benefit in the long term from the decisions that have been made.”
You can watch our full interview below, where Joe also talks about being nominated at the London Manager of the Year awards alongside Maurizio Sarri and Mauricio Pochettinho, his ambitions as a manager and the three gaffers he’d like to isolate with.
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