It has been a summer season of giant change at Brighton. Whereas many golf equipment made a number of signings – and gamers of top of the range too – it’s the Seagulls who’ve most strongly signalled their intent to compete with the WSL’s elite this season with their arrivals.
Chatting with supervisor Melissa Phillips and a collection of gamers in pre-season, it’s simply the beginning of an thrilling undertaking on the membership, with a rebirth definitely wanted after a turbulent 2022/23 season.
After two mid-table finishes and the skilled head of Hope Powell main the way in which, it was hoped the Seagulls could be in retailer for an additional strong marketing campaign – and even higher.
However maybe the crux of their points rested on the departure of Maya Le Tissier to Manchester United that summer season. There was little in the way in which of a substitute for one of many league’s most promising younger defenders.
Objectives weren’t an drawback essentially – scoring 26 occasions, the eighth-highest within the league – however conserving them out on the different finish was. In actual fact, it was an 8-0 thrashing by Tottenham that noticed Powell relieved of her managerial duties after 5 years with the membership.
Amy Merricks was twice named as interim supervisor, sandwiched both aspect of Jens Scheuer’s 65-day tenure. He oversaw six matches, three of which had been WSL defeats, and there have been experiences that his ‘forthright’ managerial type was a trigger for concern on the membership.
However Brighton now seem to have settled into stability as soon as once more beneath former London Metropolis Lionesses supervisor Phillips. Two wins and a draw within the ultimate seven league video games of the season was sufficient for the Seagulls to complete eleventh, above Studying, even after shedding in a final-day relegation showdown with Leicester.
It was not all wrestle, although, as Brighton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Nevertheless, they had been overwhelmed 3-2 in an entertaining fixture by Manchester United in Phillips’ first match in cost.
This summer season, Brighton’s squad went by means of a much-needed shake-up. Plenty of stalwarts departed, together with captain Victoria Williams, Danielle Carter and Kayleigh Inexperienced. All in all, 13 gamers left the membership, together with three out on mortgage.
However 11 incomings, oozing in worldwide expertise and high quality, present simply how bold Brighton and Phillips are.
“From the skin trying in earlier than I obtained right here, Brighton has a wonderful platform to go and be aggressive,” the Seagulls supervisor instructed Sky Sports activities.
“The membership may be very bold and we have proven our ambitions this summer season with the power to signal high-calibre gamers and actually revamp the squad.
“It is a huge rebuild and we all know issues aren’t going to occur in a single day. This can be a lengthy journey and an extended season, however we’re excited by the progress and the brand new faces within the constructing, the recent power and simply trying ahead to shifting ahead this yr.
“We’ve a pre-season beneath our belt and gamers getting back from the World Cup, new signings coming in, however in the end, we’re centered on the combination, communication and id of the group and doing that as shortly as potential. We all know we’ll develop all through the season, nevertheless it’s been a extremely enjoyable pre-season.”
The transformation started in mid-June, when Pauline Bremer was introduced as the primary signing of the summer season from final season’s Champions League runners-up, Wolfsburg.
The midfielder could be a coup for a lot of groups, however particularly a aspect that completed second-to-last within the WSL simply 4 months in the past. Bremer is a multi-trophy winner, profitable league and European titles at Lyon, in addition to the League and FA Cup whereas at Manchester Metropolis.
Bremer joined Brighton after being enticed by the undertaking in movement on the membership, which has seen a wealth of nationalities now represented within the squad.
“It feels actually good. I am loving it thus far,” she instructed Sky Sports activities Information. “Pre-season has been nice, having fun with the seaside in fact, but additionally the exhausting work with the group. I am excited to get began.
“We set excessive objectives. I am actually excited by the undertaking and to construct a group right here that may be actually profitable. Everyone knows it wants a little bit of time, however we’re all excited.
“I feel we now have 13 completely different cultures now, it is actually worldwide. I feel that makes it actually fascinating and the range is a high quality as properly and we use it in the precise method. It has been busy however good to get all these prime quality gamers in and to construct a group collectively.
“Final season was a bit tough, I watched it from the skin however being right here now, everybody needs extra and needs to climb the desk. I feel we now have the whole lot we have to do that [finish in the top half], it is simply getting issues proper and placing within the exhausting work now to achieve success this season.”
If Bremer’s arrival indicated how bold Brighton had been going to be, their subsequent signing confirmed it.
Vicky Losada is a reputation synonymous with Barcelona, who’ve damaged the French and German stranglehold in European soccer. Having come by means of the membership’s famed La Masia academy, she had three spells with the Liga F champions, profitable 15 main titles, together with the membership’s first Champions League in 2021.
In actual fact, at nearly each membership she has performed for, she has gained trophies, together with Arsenal, Man Metropolis and final season at Roma. A participant of such stature would have a choose of locations, and like Bremer, spoke of the Brighton undertaking as a sexy issue.
Chatting with the membership’s official web site, she mentioned: “I feel girls’s soccer is rising and that Brighton has a extremely good undertaking that they wish to develop day-after-day.
“The truth that Mel Phillips wished me is an enormous factor, and I really feel I can carry numerous expertise to the squad and assist the younger gamers.
“I am very aggressive and a tough employee. For me, the group is the very first thing, so I all the time put the group earlier than the participant. I feel that is essential if you wish to create atmosphere which might obtain good issues sooner or later.
“I feel it [her experience] is essential, particularly with the younger gamers. I do know that there are different skilled gamers come into the squad and I feel that mixture is ideal to create one thing actually good.”
Goalkeeper Nicky Evrard additionally signed on mortgage from Chelsea for the season. One other participant jam-packed with worldwide expertise, she is Belgium’s No 1 and was very important as her nation reached the Euro 2022 quarter-finals final summer season.
She was quickly joined by fellow stopper Sophie Baggaley from Manchester United, becoming a member of former United team-mate defender Maria Thorisdottir on the south coast. The latter too has loads of first group and worldwide expertise with Norway.
However additionally it is maybe not the best shock that Brighton have managed to land such expertise. The recruitment for the boys’s aspect has been a few of the greatest within the Premier League for years, with that now being mirrored within the girls’s group. It exhibits simply how significantly the membership views Phillips and her squad.
With that being mentioned, simply what’s the Brighton undertaking that has attracted such backing from the membership with a number of high-calibre signings?
On the core, it should definitely be to enhance on their league end final season and make themselves aggressive among the many WSL’s elite.
That begins with the gamers at your disposal, and Phillips additionally provided an perception into how she has characterised her summer season recruitment drive.
“It is about discovering the precise folks and what’s that, how do you outline it?,” she instructed Sky Sports activities.
“We shared our imaginative and prescient with the membership and the gamers we went after. In the end, we wished to verify the folks we purchased in shared the ambition and values with the membership, shared the need to develop and stretch themselves and as such, we really feel we obtained actually good characters, actually good leaders and actually good human beings, firstly.
“In fact, then the technical qualities, the expertise, the athleticism, these elements all performed a component in it. We’re actually blissful the place we’re at and the gamers we have purchased in.
“The thrilling half about our new signings is you could possibly stroll by means of the door with that group at the moment and it would not really feel like there’s 11 new faces as a result of they’ve actually meshed properly. They’re like-minded characters and bold. It has been enjoyable to be a part of the group.
“We wish to compete within the prime half of the desk, I feel that is actually essential, and we now have to be in step with our performances to try this and be aggressive as properly.”
In fact, the proof of all the above will come as soon as the season begins on October 1 as Brighton journey to Everton.
Phillips confronted Brian Sorensen’s group twice in her brief tenure on the finish of final season. She gained her first league recreation towards the Toffees 3-2, however slipped to a 2-1 defeat within the reverse fixture in Could.
Reflecting on these fixtures, the Seagulls boss mentioned: “Each had been aggressive matches, each actually tight as properly that had been gained and misplaced on the tail finish of the sport. We count on numerous high quality from them in possession, as they had been final yr.
“The opening recreation of the WSL, everybody goes to be excited for it and for it to be 100 miles per hour, so it is about how we handle momentum and put our stamp on the sport.”
Nevertheless, the most important take a look at of how a lot this rejuvenated Brighton squad can obtain will come once they face final season’s prime 4 in successive video games between October and November. Not solely will followers be on the lookout for their new stars to carry out, but additionally take factors towards the massive groups within the tightest of leagues.
One factor that’s for positive is the quantity of optimism and focus there may be at Brighton heading into a brand new season. It’s a recent begin for the Seagulls with challenges to come back, however Phillips has armed her squad with the precise instruments to make it a profitable marketing campaign.
The best way to observe the WSL on Sky Sports activities
Observe all the newest from the Girls’s Tremendous League throughout SkySports.com and app, together with unique options and interviews, plus devoted reside weblog protection and in-game clips from video games reside on Sky Sports activities.
You can even watch free match highlights from each WSL recreation this season on Sky Sports activities’ digital platforms and YouTube channel, whereas all matches will proceed to be proven on each Sky Sports activities Soccer, in addition to on Sky Showcase, out there in all Sky houses, even and not using a Sky Sports activities bundle, giving the competitors better visibility.
Alongside protection and visibility for the league throughout all Sky Sports activities’ fundamental social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will proceed to be the house of all Barclays FA WSL content material on Sky Sports activities.
The Sky Sports activities WSL TikTok account provides followers 360° protection of the league and granting them unique entry to their new favorite gamers. By way of enjoyable challenges and interviews, together with behind-the-scenes footage, viewers will get to know the WSL’s array of personalities and see the game from a brand new set of angles.
In the meantime, followers may also maintain updated with the whole lot on and off the pitch with the return of Three Gamers and a Podcast, hosted by Caroline Barker.