Aussie boss Joe Montemurro was the man who helmed Arsenal Women’s first title since 2012.
Our title triumph last year was against the odds. Man City and Chelsea had established a stranglehold on the Womens Super League with a combination of savvy recruitment and a healthy dose of money to acquire those talents.
When Montemurro took over in 2017, he was picking up where Pedro Losa left. The Spaniard had constructed an exciting but frail side, capable of scoring a hatful but also culpable of shipping a few too. It led to moments of weakness in big games. This in turn meant that the side were more than adept at duking it out at the top but when it came to the crunch? We ultimately missed out.
Losa took over in 2014 and assembled a side that glittered with international class. Dutch stars Dominique Janssen, Sari Van Veenendal, Danielle Van De Donk and Vivianne Miedema were all brought in under Losa, and two cup wins in his time there was a surefire sign that the side was in the resurgence.
But Arsenal Women would fall short of the big prize. They needed more tactical acumen, they needed a bit more adaptability in their ranks.
Montemurro stepped in, after spending the majority of his managerial career in the competitive W-League in Australia. Honours were frequent in his time there, but his appointment as Arsenal boss was still his biggest task.
His first season saw City pip the Gunners by a solitary point – a marked improvement over previous seasons. Hopes were high for 2018-19 – and they were right to be. Arsenal finished above second-placed City by seven points – and clinched the WSL.
A prolific attack, a combative and creative midfield and a robust defence was the platform for this success – but the real secret ingredient to our success was the fact Montemurro had instilled a fluidity in his lineup that opponents couldn’t pin down.
Van De Donk, Little, Nobbs – the creative forces of the side – they didn’t have a zone they stuck to. They simply turned up where possession dictated and where they could do most damage.
When it came to wideplay, players like Katie McCabe, Lisa Evans – they could ping in a cross and beat their marker, but they can also defend and keep things tight. The balance in the side is just right, and the flexibility of our side makes sure we can cope with absences.
Montemurro has made this side his own – and brought this Arsenal side back to the top where it belongs.