‘Use lessons from the ESL fallout for the good of the game,’ says Arsenal boss Montemurro

Sportsbeat
·3 min read
Arsenal are currently in pole position to claim the third and final Women's Champions League place in the WSL, with a home clash against Brighton next up © REUTERS
Arsenal are currently in pole position to claim the third and final Women's Champions League place in the WSL, with a home clash against Brighton next up © REUTERS

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro believes lessons can be learnt from the European Super League fallout to help both the men’s and women’s game grow in the future.

The Gunners were one of six English teams to back out of plans for a new 12-club midweek men’s competition earlier this week, that had included a proposed corresponding women’s competition alongside it.

Having confirmed he was kept in the dark about the club’s decisions, Montemurro also said he hasn’t been directly contacted by any members of the Arsenal hierarchy in the aftermath of their withdrawal on April 20.

And while he is personally pleased that his side’s domestic and European ambitions will continue in the same vein for now, the 51-year-old urged clubs across the continent to use the recent uproar to aid further plans for development going forward.

“As much as this episode has been a largely negative portrayal of the game, I think it’s an opportunity for us all to work out how we can do better and where we don’t need certain things,” Montemurro said.

“There are always situations where people are trying to maximise the game from a commercial perspective and coming up with different ways to improve things. I think we’ve learnt a lot as football clubs about the game, where it’s at, and where we think it can go.

“The information with regards to the format of the women’s competition was very sketchy - in my honest opinion I think it was just a bit of a bolt-on, and a bit of lip service.

“It caught me by surprise and I found out while watching football on Sky. My first reaction was of interest, but we’re in football to compete, and that’s how sport should be.”

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With the ESL debacle likely to linger for some time yet Montemurro is firmly focused on securing Arsenal’s place in next season’s Champions League, with the north Londoners currently occupying the all-important third-place spot in the Barclays FA WSL with four games to go.

Ahead of Manchester United on goal difference, but with a game in hand, the Australian is confident his charges can get the job done and serve him with the perfect finish to his tenure in charge.

While the Gunners have won five on the bounce in the league since a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in February, Sunday’s visitors Brighton have themselves lost just once in their last six, and Montemurro isn’t taking them lightly.

He said: “Our destiny is totally in our control. The team is in a good space, and it’s purely in our hands now. We know if we control scenarios we’ll be able to achieve what we want to achieve this year, and that’s that Champions League place.

“Our preparations are on course, we don’t know what each game is going to bring but we’re controlling everything well from our perspective, and we’re ready.

“Brighton are an exciting team and an exciting prospect for the WSL. I love the work that Hope’s [Powell] been doing there over the past couple of years. They’ve really grown and stabilised themselves as an important team in the league, and their results are showing their progress.

“We’re approaching the game with caution, but we know if we stick to our plan and make sure we limit their quick transitions and defensive shape we should have enough to get over the line.”