Arsenal Women ‘focused’ during lockdown says Montemurro

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Arsenal Women’s manager Joe Montemurro says his players are staying focused during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gunners last played on February 23, against Chelsea in the Continental Cup fina, before play was suspended due to the crisis.

But Montemurro, who returned to his native Australia in early March, told Arsenal Player: “We’re mainly on the physical aspect right now, so a lot of them are keeping to their individual physical parameters.

“The general consensus is that football is something that as players and staff, we’ll slowly integrate over the next couple of weeks. We’re starting to do a little bit of match review and individual review just on our methodology, our style and where we can improve, but right now it’s more on the individual scenario.

“Monday is usually a staff and player meeting, then we’re also doing regular check-ins and I’m also checking in with each group once a week too. We’re very much on the conditioning base right now, but the most important thing is their well-being, mental health and the follow-up to make sure that players who are alone and away from their families are getting the support that they need.

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“The club has been fantastic as a whole. Like most organisations, they’ve all been given individual programmes, but in all honesty we’ve had a tough two-and-a half years. A lot of our players have come out of Euros, World Cups and winning the title last year, so it’s been a tough two-and-a-half years for a lot of these players.

“We’re quite happy for them to do their programmes and keep their individual fitness going, but also to take this time to refresh, relax and recalibrate, which I think is even more important in this stage.

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“It’s a great opportunity to do that and it’s a great opportunity for us to be creative in this environment. It’s a balance of that, but also individual programmes because we have some players coming back from rehab from injuries and so on, so they’ve taken this time to really get right. All in all, it’s been positive.”

Montemurro led Arsenal to their first Women’s Super League in seven years in 2018/19 and has become a fans’ favourite with supporters.

The Australian went on to add that any of the players can speak to him at any time during the crisis, with the Gunners currently third in the league.

He also spoke about the importance of family time after he had to go back to Melbourne for personal reasons last month, adding: “The most important thing right now is to be available. They can talk to me at any time whenever they want to and whichever staff member they want to as well, or even among themselves.

“I know there’s a lot of group scenarios happening with a lot of fun and a bit of competition amongst them right now. It’s fundamentally important that we can’t have the physical get-togethers, but we can definitely have some fun by communicating. Communication is paramount.

“We have [all been doing video calls together], but it’s probably more banter than anything of any productive nature! But it’s great, they’ve been really good and a couple of players have just started to do their own little bits and pieces in couples. It’s been good to just catch up and have a bit of a laugh and see each other’s faces.

“It’s more just to make people laugh, to be honest. It’s a testing time and these privileges as players have been taken away, we don’t have the choices and we’re told what to do. It’s an interesting time not only for the sport, but as human beings too. It’s a great time for us to really recalibrate and reboot.”

This comes after it was revealed that the Football Association is considering the possibility of playing the conclusion of the Women’s Super League season at neutral venues.

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