It’s been a winter of change at Glasgow Women, with an entirely new squad, a new name and a new manager as excitement builds ahead of the 2020 SWPL2 season. This week Campbell Finlayson spoke to new boss Craig Joyce, to see how things are going.
Previously with Glasgow City’s Development squad, Joyce was attracted to their city neighbours’ ambitions and had no problem in joining the club. He says; “I just wanted a change of scenery to be honest with you, I’ve been at City for a long time, borderline eight, nine years so I wanted a challenge.”
“I couldn’t go anywhere else at City, the roof was there so I had to find something else and I spoke to a few clubs to be honest, I’ve known Jim (Strathdee) for a long, long time and we had an honest chat with each other. I’ve known Iain (Ferrie) and Rab (Wyatt) for a long time as well and I knew it was going to be a big project and a big challenge so that attracted me.”
“There were opportunities to stay at City but I just didn’t think they were the right ones and I wanted more, I’ve always been like that, I’ve always been quite driven to better myself. I’ve worked with the same group of girls, with additions here and there, since they were nine and 10 so they’ve came all the way through the academy to the development side and that was it, there were opportunities there but the chance to go first team was too good to knock back.”
Having worked with these players for the majority of their careers, it was always likely that he’d bring some of them with him to his new club, with the likes of Lucy Ronald and Sophie Allison joining the boss at Glasgow Women. Joyce knows the quality of the players and with many of them already knowing each other; could that stand them in good stead ahead of the season?
“I’d hope so, but we need to give them time to gel with new players and the new players to get used to them which we think is happening quite quickly, quicker than I’ve seen before because it is a brand new squad. It’s all about gelling; we’ve got the 19s under our bracket as well to keep an eye on so once we’ve gelled we’ll be alright. That will help, a lot of the players know each other away from the club as well, it’s a small, small world football so hopefully that helps us in the long run.”
The side from Glasgow’s East end begin their league campaign against Partick Thistle at the end of February, but before that they have the newly formatted SWPL Cup group stage to contend with. With a new squad, they would be forgiven for treating those games as preparation for the league but Joyce doesn’t want it just to be an extra pre-season. He explains; “Anything you enter you’re looking to win and do as well as you can. First and foremost it’s about developing them as a squad, get that right and the rest will come. I’ve always said if you get it right off the park, you’ll get it right on it. We’ll take that as serious as we can but right now we focus on getting through pre-season and gelling.”
Last season saw Hearts pip Hamilton to the title on the last day and with the league now extended from eight teams to 10, it’s likely to be another fascinating SWPL2 season and Joyce is realistic about what his side can do, saying;
“Quietly we’ve been talking about promotion but realistically we want to go in there and get a good start, it’s important to get a good start to the season and it’ll balance itself out. Every team in this league is fantastic, there are some top players in there as well and a lot of great coaches and the teams will all fight for it in their own right.”
You’ll be looking at your Hamilton and your Thistle’s and others who’ve got far more experience than we have but getting the way we want to play across is massively important for us and this new brand we’ve got here at Glasgow Women so that’s first and foremost and afterwards we’ll probably make our intentions clear. We’ve got a cracker in the first week against Thistle and we’re just looking forward to the league starting.”
Glasgow Women begin their SWPL2 campaign with a city derby against Partick Thistle with the opening fixtures scheduled to take place on Sunday 23rd February. Craig Joyce and his side will find out their SWPL Cup fate on Saturday 25th January when the draw for the group stages is made.
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