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Brian Sørensen Is Making The Toffees Stick

The View from Walton Hall Park
by Jake Marley

After a season of upheaval in 2021-22, Everton Women are finally beginning to fulfil their undoubted potential, blossoming in 2022-23 under the expert eye of Brian Sørensen in just his first season in England. Early season patience was required whilst The Dane laid the early foundations amidst a stuttering start to the campaign as new signings bedded in and the team got to grips with his methods, tactics and vision but the bags of personality and strong leadership group (both evident in the clubs online pre-season content in the summer) would stand the team in good stead in the months to follow. Gabby George – who somehow wasn’t called up by England this past week, Lucy Hope and the returning Nicoline Sørensen are part of such group and represent the club superbly both on and off the pitch, as in fact do the whole squad. On the subject of that, players socialising with fans; posing for pictures, signing autographs etc. shouldn’t ever be taken for granted but is something Everton on the whole do very, very well. There’s a community feel and it’s beautiful to be a part of as a fan.

In terms of the football itself, a determination to play fluid football out from the back was evident from day one and despite initial teething problems is something that has started to bare fruit with some exceptional team goals scored in recent games playing that exact way. It’s in the main great to watch too and very exciting to see so many young players expressing themselves wearing the blue shirt. There’s also the fight and pride for the club badge – that we as Evertonians demand – in abundance.

The Dane himself is a rather reserved yet very likeable character. His pre and post-match interviews are always very watchable and you can’t fail to learn things whilst listening to him. Quite a few players have spoken throughout the season about their love for his methods and style and you can see that love on the pitch each and every week, regardless of the result. There’s a clear way of playing; a personality, an identity. We’ve also begun to see the best of Swedish star Hanna Bennison – now playing in her preferred position after being misused by the previous manager – and whilst keeping hold of her may prove difficult in the future, it’s a MUST for the club to move forward. She’s a special player.

Delving deeper into the squad, the way Sørensen turned the squad around in the summer has to be admired, with the loan signing of young forward – turned Lioness – Jess Park from Manchester City widely considered a masterstroke. Park is our top scorer this season and is a diamond. A real livewire, full of confidence, an absolute joy to watch in royal blue. Goalkeeper Emily Ramsey also came in on loan from Manchester United and has had a great season between the sticks thus far, resulting in a hugely deserved call-up to the England Senior squad for their upcoming fixtures where she will once again try to usurp the formidable No.1 of her current parent club, Mary Earps. Earps’ being such a tough nut to crack could well improve our chances of her staying put more long-term which simply can’t be a bad thing. Elsewhere international experience was brought in across the board with the additions of Australian International Clare Wheeler alongside Danish internationals Karen and Sara Holmgaard, and Katrine Veje who has unfortunately spent a significant amount of time out injured since a good start to the season. England U21 forward Aggie Beever-Jones also added depth in attack, coming in on loan from Chelsea and recently bagged Goal of the Month for her absolute rocket in the 3-0 home win against West Ham.

On the subject of home, Walton Hall Park is fast becoming a fortress with strong home form the basis for our continued push for a top 5 finish in the WSL. Firstly that’s something Sørensen has nailed. Struggling to beat the teams around us or below us was a hallmark of a disappointing campaign last season but that’s a wrong that’s been firmly righted by this current squad who’ve brushed aside anyone outside the top 4 who has visited us in the league. Secondly, great work by the Everton Women’s Supporters Club is making the stadium feel more and more like home week to week with flags adorning the spaces behind the goalmouth, the re-recording of Spirit of the Blues to include the line “come on, come on, get down to Walton Hall Park” as well as a much improved atmosphere and a plethora of great, creative songs from the terraces with the Jess Park one to Blur’s Parklife and “Ramsey in the middle of our goal” to the tune of Madness’ Our House personal favourites. Attendances have also improved with numerous games selling out this season and the quality of football on the pitch justifies it. You can only hope that’s something that continues to improve and Walton Hall Park can begin to grow as we move forward. Certainly as a stadium it’s one of the few things Everton have got right in recent years. You can tell the girls are very proud of it and enjoy expressing themselves on home turf and having their own base.

Playing with such expression, togetherness and pride has us sitting here during the February International break in good shape in the WSL – currently 6th on 19 points – just 1 point behind 5th placed Aston Villa and 7 behind 4th placed Arsenal with a game in hand on both. There’s a general excitement within the fanbase of what can be achieved in the remainder of the season. In terms of highlights winning the Merseyside Derby 3-0 at Anfield with a phenomenal team performance of course stands out, whilst putting in a gritty, determined performance befitting of our great club to hold current league leaders Manchester United to a draw away from home last week is also something to be proud of and a good marker of the progression made in recent months.

Here’s hoping for an even better last few months of the season and hopefully that targeted top 5 finish in what is in the main a very competitive division. UTT.

If you’ve not visited Walton Hall Park yet, I’d implore you to do so before the season is out, it really is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The remaining Everton Women’s home fixtures are detailed below.

Sunday March 5 vs Aston Villa (1pm)
Friday March 24 vs Liverpool (7.30pm)*
Sunday April 2 vs Tottenham (1pm)
Sunday April 30 vs Arsenal (1pm)
Sunday May 21 vs Brighton (1pm)

*to be played at Goodison Park

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