Eidevall On Leicester Coaching Change And ‘Team Maturity’

Impetus’ Kris Goman was in Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall‘s media conference for us as the red-hot Gunners travel to a struggling Leicester City side who are under new management (6/11/22).

Above: Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall spoke to the media on the challenge he expects from Leicester City later today. Photo: Arsenal Women.

As Arsenal prepare to travel to Leicester City today, the unexpected news that the East Midlands club’s head coach Lydia Bedford and assistant Nicola Williams were both sacked and replaced by Willie Kirk surprised Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall as he discussed in his pre-match press conference.

Eidevall clearly has a lot of respect for Bedford and thought she was doing a good job.  “I was surprised to see that they changed. From the outside, just purely looking at the results, I think we all know it’s a result-based business, so there’s not a surprise if you don’t win any games that they might change the coach, but I was surprised, given that when you prep for playing them, I think Leicester was one of the better-coached teams in the league.

“They looked very well structured with all players trying to make the most of that idea. When we have been preparing for them, I think that I’ve seen a lot of development of the Leicester side, so for me, I was very surprised when I got the news yesterday and I hope that Lydia, as a fellow coach, can see that progress even if she didn’t get the reward from it points-based but I think she has improved them performance wise. I think that’s the nature of the game.”  

The Arsenal chief went on to hint that Willie Kirk may have been waiting to take over the role. “If I was giving any young coaches any advice, I’d say that when your boss also is a head coach, that usually never leaves you a lot of margins in this game. So that’s something that I would always be watching out for a little bit, being a head coach myself.” 

The coaching change has impacted the preparation for the match and he had a clear history of them playing under Bedford.

“What I have seen from Leicester before was a very organised, structured team, very hard working. When we look at the underlying numbers, it’s one of the best defensive teams in the whole league.”

Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall on the difficulty of breaking Leicester City down.

“We have seen that in the recent games both against Manchester United and Reading, they are a very hard team to break down so we’re prepared to be very good on the ball to be able to create enough scoring opportunities to win.” 

When asked if he could research Willie Kirk’s managerial style and maybe look back at when he was in charge of Everton and particularly Bristol City, a team that were in a similar situation to where Leicester are now, he replied, “You’re thinking like a good coach right now. That’s what you do. You try to get all the information; you try to apply it for what the current environment is. It still doesn’t mean that you can predict the future. You can have a good idea of what has been happening before at least.” 

What came through very strongly was the concept of ‘Team Maturity’ and being able to handle any situation and adapt on the fly. “That’s what we’re trying to build. I think, one of the most underrated things we speak about as a team is the concept of team maturity.

“Team maturity is how many different situations can you give a team and you need some time together to build that experience. You also, of course, have to be effective with time. For us, we’re building that all the time. All the experience that we have and we try to recreate in training, it goes towards games like this. So we can’t say what we’re going to expect, we have to trust the team maturity to say how many different situations and formations that we know that we can deal with, and hopefully that’s enough.” 

This was reiterated when asked if it was similar to playing Birmingham City last year when they were bottom of the table and had a fairly new manager and whether to expect that new manager bounce you sometimes see in teams, which resulted in Birmingham taking all three points in that match.

Above: Birmingham City celebrate during their win over Arsenal last season. Jonas Eidevall is out to ensure his team avoids a similar outcome at this season’s WSL strugglers Leicester City. Photo: Sky Sports.

“When you’re playing against a team that is not that predictable, the maturity of the team will play out. I think if we are comparing this game to, for example Birmingham away, it’s a measurement of our team maturity – how far we have come, and I trust our team that we are taking steps and we are developing but we need to call that into action in Sunday’s game.” 

Questioned as to whether playing a team sitting on the bottom of the table presented an opportunity to get clear of the other teams at the top of the table by increasing the goal difference. Eidevall made it clear that was never the primary aim. “I would never start with the goal difference. Our mindset is we need to be 100% and we need to do that in every situation and every game.

“We do not let the score affect our efforts. So that means we should, even if we are losing, we should never give up. And if we are winning, we should always try and push and do our very best. So, by doing our best in every moment, that will ultimately lead us to the best possible outcome. That’s the challenge but each game starts nil nil and we have to lead from that moment and don’t think that we can jump ahead in our thoughts.” 

He was quizzed, as usual on the injury status of players but wouldn’t be drawn on any timelines other than to say that things are progressing well with all three, Leah Williamson, Kim Little, and Rafaelle Souza and that they’re doing their best every day. He did confirm however that Kim Little’s injury was to her knee.  

On the topic of giving Vivianne Miedema some time off and how he’d done that before with the Australians last year and how the form of Frida Maanum and Jordan Nobbs may have given him the confidence to do this, he said, “I prefer not to go into detail about it but, like I answered on the question before, I think it’s the balance between short term and long term, the balance between what’s best for the individual and what’s best for the club and in this situation, this was the best decision.” 

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