Women’s Super League 2023-24 previews No 6: Everton | OneFootball

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The Guardian

·26 September 2023

Women’s Super League 2023-24 previews No 6: Everton

Article image:Women’s Super League 2023-24 previews No 6: Everton

The plan

It is safe to say Everton look more settled than they did this time last year. A season with zero managerial changes has helped Brian Sørensen to lay the foundations in a club that has endured a turbulent couple of years.

A sixth-place finish was a vast improvement on the previous campaign (10th) and their goal now will be to establish consistency. Beating their Merseyside rivals at Anfield will have been among the highlights, along with victory against high-flying Aston Villa, while their encounters with the top four, bar a heavy beating by Chelsea, showed the gap narrowing.

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They look a little thin on the ground in terms of personnel with the majority of last year’s loan players returning to their parent clubs. Losing club stalwart Gabby George on deadline day was a particular blow, giving Sørensen no time to find a replacement. Her departure combined with that of Rikke Sevecke does raise questions around their defensive strength.

Retaining the goalkeeper Emily Ramsey permanently was crucial and they look strong in that department. They have reinforced in attack and midfield bringing in Italy’s Martina Piemonte and the experienced Justine Vanhaevermaet, while the Irish World Cup star Heather Payne brings versatility. Emma Bissell and Karoline Olesen are young but possess plenty of potential. The 19-year-old Alyssa Aherne also made a deadline-day loan move from Manchester United, and it will be interesting to see what impact she can have.

While pre-season has yielded little in the way of victories, it has been positive. High-scoring defeats against Leicester (3-2) and Manchester City (4-3) and a narrow 1-0 defeat by Manchester United showed progress. “We just have to put everything we have into training in the last month and get us in the best shape as possible physically, mentally, tactically,” Elise Stenevik said. “I feel we’re closer this year [to the quality at the top of the table] and that’s what we’re going to push for ... It takes time, it takes practice, and it takes intensity like in our performance against Manchester United.”

The manager

Sørensen arrived last season with the desire to build a strong playing identity. He favours possession-based football with a key focus on the midfield areas. He will now be looking for increased consistency and productivity in front of goal. “The next stage is can we disrupt one of the big four?” he said. “Can we be more ruthless when we play the teams around us too? I feel that in some games last year we should never have lost a point or two. It was in our own hands.”

Star player

The Danish winger Nicoline Sørensen is a dangerous weapon for any side to have. She missed the first half of last season as she continued her recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Since her return, she has scored twice and registered four assists. Fully fit again, her speed and skill in delivery will be a key component of Everton’s attack. In addition, she has an eye for a goal and has already opened her account in pre-season with a brace against Manchester City.

High-profile summer signing

The signing of Piemonte on a two-year contract from Milan caught the eye. The 25-year-old Italian forward arrives on the back of a good season in Serie A and is a strong and clinical presence in the box. She is only the second Italian to come into the WSL as she joins her compatriot, Aurora Galli, on Merseyside. The two have played together previously and their link-up from midfield to attack will be key for the Everton this season.

Article image:Women’s Super League 2023-24 previews No 6: Everton

World Cup 2023 delight/heartache

Sweden’s Nathalie Björn and Hanna Bennison progressed the furthest of Everton’s World Cup internationals this summer, beating the hosts Australia to the bronze medal. There was heartbreak, however, and a feeling of a missed opportunity after defeat to Spain in the semi-finals. Elsewhere, Courtney Brosnan and Payne featured heavily for the Republic of Ireland, Katja Snoeijs played for the Dutch, Katrine Veje and Karen Holmgaard were ever present for Denmark, while Clare Wheeler was an unused squad member with Australia.

Social media status

Everton Women have a growing presence on their dedicated X and Instagram channels, with the latter having amassed over 117,000 followers. The women’s team is featured sporadically on the main Everton TikTok and YouTube. They do, however, have a dedicated match-day presenter in Sarah Halpin who has formed an integral part of their content. She has worked with the women’s team since 2018 and has also been involved on the men’s side since 2020.

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