Despite losing three of our five pre-season fixtures, Joe Montemurro is adamant that we’re ready to go against West Ham on Sunday.
Our head coach wanted to push his squad out of their comfort zone and into difficult situations - and this was certainly achieved, as we faced Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Barcelona with few players in peak condition.
“Pre-season was about not resting on our laurels,” Montemurro told ArsenaI Player. “We specifically designed the pre-season as you saw through the games that we played where we weren’t ready to play that type of opposition.
“I wanted to put them out of their comfort zone, but I wanted to put them out of their comfort zone to embrace that, not to look at it as a negative. To say okay, we’re uncomfortable here, how are we going to react to it? How are we going to be better in this situation? And I think that’s the mark of champion teams. When the situation isn’t going well and the situation is a little bit uncomfortable, how are we going to better it and make it better?
“The second [reason we faced tough opposition so early on] is because we’ve got players that are coming out of World Cup finals and big tournaments - and this is now going to become commonplace in women’s football. In men’s football you can be playing a World Cup, get a week’s holiday and then you’re back in to training qualifying for the Europa League or Champions League or whatever it is. This is now happening in women’s football, so they’re uncomfortable and they need to get used to being uncomfortable. It was a matter of really making them understand that we can’t rest on our laurels.”
Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.
Head coach Steve Clarke says it is "up to me to find the solution" for Scotland's underwhelming performances after Russia dealt a grave blow to their Euro 2020 qualification hopes.
Clarke's side are fourth in Group I with six points from five games after Friday's meek 2-1 defeat by Russia.
Belgium, the world's top-ranked team, are up next on Monday at Hampden.
"You must believe there's a solution. It's only my third game so I'm still learning about the players," he said.
"There are some positions where we're stronger than others but, within the group, I think we have enough talent to be competitive. If you look at the start of the game - we have good players."
Scotland have already secured a Nations League semi-final place, which means they remain just two games away from reaching next year's Euros.
But Clarke's side are six points adrift of second-placed Russia in Group I with five games to play and the top two earning automatic qualification.
The national coach admits he was baffled by his team's failure to take advantage of an ideal start, with John McGinn's 10th-minute goal cancelled out by Artem Dzyuba before Stephen O'Donnell's own goal swung the momentum towards the visitors.
"For a reason I have yet to determine, we stepped off the game and allowed Russia to dominate us and impose their style of play on us," Clarke said.
"Why we allowed that game to drift away from us, whether it's a mental thing or a quality thing, we will need to assess."
Looking ahead to Monday's game against Belgium, he added: "I spoke about the three difficult games coming up and that's the first gone, three points are away.
"So Monday is beginning to look like a game that we need to take something from, whether it's one point or three, to give ourselves a realistic chance in the group."
Scotland hopes of earning automatic qualification for Euro 2020 dangle by a thread after Russia came from behind to win at Hampden.
John McGinn gave Steve Clarke's side the lead, but slack defending allowed Artem Dzyuba to strike before Stephen O'Donnell's own goal put Russia ahead.
Scotland sit six points adrift of the Russians in fourth with five games to play and the top two qualifying from the group. They host Belgium, the top ranked team in the world, in Glasgow on Monday.
Barring an unlikely sequence of results, Scotland's qualification hopes will now rest on the Nations League play-offs, with a semi-final place already secured.
This was a first competitive home defeat since then-world champions Germany triumphed 3-2 four years ago. After a bright start, Scotland faded badly and could have lost more heavily, with the Russians hitting the woodwork twice and having an effort hacked off the line.
'Outplayed and outclassed'
It began with Scotland on the attack and ended with Scotland on the attack - it was the big bit in the middle that was the problem.
Long before the final whistle you lost count of the amount of times Scotland gave the ball away and made their lives murderously difficult in the process. Long before the final whistle you lost count of the number of opportunities Russia failed to take in their pursuit of a game-clinching third goal.
In the last reckoning, they didn't need that third. Two did the job. Two was enough to effectively kill off any hope Scotland may have had of getting in the shake-up in this group. After the early boon of goal, Scotland were thoroughly outplayed and outclassed.
Briefly, there was hope. Given the plague that descended on Scotland's centre-halves - four of them going down injured in the build-up to this critical qualifier - a debut was given to Leeds United captain Liam Cooper.
At the other end, Clarke went with Oli McBurnie, a player who turned with the intensity of a man who had a whole lot to prove, which is what exactly what he is, regardless of the eye-watering sum that Sheffield United splashed out for him in the summer.
McBurnie had looked leaden and unthreatening in his previous appearances for his country, but he played a big part in what was a quick start by Scotland. Even before the opening goal, they'd caused Russia some bother, O'Donnell hooking an effort on goal from close range only for Guilherme to get his body in the way to block it.
The goal came in the 11th minute and, though Hampden had vast unoccupied sections, the place still made a fair old racket when McGinn scored. Unsurprisingly it all started with a delivery from the left from Ryan Fraser, his cross being spilled by Guilherme and falling to McGinn, who took full advantage of a gift of a chance.
Guilherme was undoubtedly unnerved by McBurnie's presence when the ball was in the air from Fraser, the striker failing to make contact but succeeding in distracting the goalkeeper. McBurnie looked hungry and effective in those early minutes.
It was a bright and encouraging start from the Scots, but as the half wore on the more Russia came into it. They were helped by a growing hesitancy and anxiety from the home team. That accuracy and energy they had early on soon evaporated. They couldn't keep the ball, couldn't bring any composure to their play. Misplaced pass followed misplaced pass. Trouble was on its way.
It arrived when Scotland once again gave away possession and put pressure on themselves. To add to the error count, in attempting to clear from Aleksandr Golovin, Robertson inadvertently helped it on to Dzyuba. The big striker with the prolific record had the time and space he needed to slam his shot past David Marshall.
It was his 21st goal in 37 games for his country. What Scotland would give for a goal machine like the Zenit lighthouse.
Russia took total control of it after that, helped along their merry way by Scotland's desperate inability to hold on to the ball. The number of times they lost it needlessly and sent Russia running at them was remarkable.
Early in the second half they really started to pepper Scotland's goal. Charlie Mulgrew had to charge down a piledriver from Golovin. Two minutes later, Golovin broke free but sliced his shot wide. Scotland's wastefulness wasn't just asking to be punished, it was practically begging for it.
On the hour, they got what was coming. This time it was Fraser who ceded possession. Aleksei Ionov picked it up, played a gorgeous ball in behind Cooper to Golovin, who squared it towards the veteran Yuri Zhirkov. The Russian got the first touch, but O'Donnell sliding in an attempt to avert danger, got the last, fateful touch.
Whoever is credited with the goal hardly matters. Russia had the lead and they never really looked like giving it up despite a late flurry by the Scots.
The only wonder was that they didn't add to it. Mario Fernandes forced a save from Marshall, Magomed Ozdoev's deflected shot hit a post, Zhirkov's effort had to be pushed away by the Scotland goalkeeper in another Russian wave.
Scotland pushed hard for an equaliser but didn't get it and didn't deserve to get it together. Belgium next on Monday. Life doesn't get any easier for Clarke and his players.
Man of the match - Aleksandr Golovin
Golovin ran amok. He was on a different level to anybody in blue, buzzing about, picking up loose balls and using his intelligence and vision to cause no end of terror. A world-class player.
Defeat ended Scotland's run of nine competitive home games without a loss
It's the first time they have lost at home after taking the lead since March 2013, when they lost 2-1 to Wales
Scotland have scored in 15 successive competitive home games; their longest run since a streak of 18 between February 1993 and October 1999
Russia have won four consecutive games for the first time since November 2015 (five in a row)
No player has been directly involved in more goals in Euro 2020 qualifying than Russia's Artem Dzyuba (six goals, two assists)
Aston Villa and Scotland midfielder John McGinn has been directly involved in three goals in five games for club and country this season (two goals, one assist)
Monk: "I was a player here many moons ago and even though it was a short spell, I got a good grasp of how powerful and traditional this club is."
Last Updated: 06/09/19 4:48pm
0:34Garry Monk says he is excited to return to Sheffield Wednesday after being appointed as their new manager - he made 15 appearances for the club during his playing career
Garry Monk says he is excited to return to Sheffield Wednesday after being appointed as their new manager - he made 15 appearances for the club during his playing career
Garry Monk has been appointed as the new manager of Sheffield Wednesday.
Monk has been out of work since June after being sacked by Birmingham City, following a row with the board over the club's transfer policy.
The former Swansea City, Leeds and Middlesbrough manager guided the Blues to 17th in the Sky Bet Championship last term.
Huddsf'ld vs Sheff Wed
September 15, 2019, 11:30am
The 40-year-old managed 59 games for Birmingham (19 wins, 20 draws, and 20 defeats) during 15 months in charge.
As a player, Monk enjoyed a brief loan spell with the Owls in the 2002/03 season and upon his return to Hillsborough, the former defender believes he can help Wednesday realise their potential in the Championship this season.
"I was a player here many moons ago and even though it was a short spell, I got a good grasp of how powerful and traditional this club is," he said.
1:25Highlights from the Carabao Cup second round match between Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday
Highlights from the Carabao Cup second round match between Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday
"It's a great opportunity and one I am really excited about.
"My overriding feeling is excitement and seeing what we can do here. We know we have a capable squad and it's about making us compete as hard as we can and then the quality will come through.
"I'm looking forward to working with Lee (Bullen) and some of the other staff here and their expertise is invaluable. I've already had a good chat with them and we will get to work."
💬 GM: In the Championship there are another 15/16 teams with the same ambition, you must do the basics well and your quality will come out on top and we have that quality here. We will put that work in #swfcLIVEpic.twitter.com/GU4VWoh7yQ
The FA has been accused of not taking racism seriously enough after fining Huddersfield more for their kit stunt than Millwall for their fans' racist chanting.
While there is a disparity between the £50,000 handed to the Terriers and the £10,000 to the Lions - which was highlighted by betting company Paddy Power and others - this does not paint the full picture of Millwall's punishment and how much they have to pay.
As well as the fine, the FA devised an action plan with Millwall to address and try to solve their racism issues, which included measures like increased CCTV and stewarding.
The plan - which was firstly to combat current problems and secondly to educate fans - would cost a sizeable amount of money to implement, and take their total charge much closer or even over that of Huddersfield.
1st August: The FA fine Millwall £10,000 for supporters’ racist chanting.
5th September: The FA fine Huddersfield Town £50,000 for wearing a fake shirt in a pre-season friendly.
The FA is understood to believe this more progressive approach to be a more effective way of helping end racism problems at clubs, rather than simply handing them a fine.
The governing body believes it highlights how seriously they take the racism issue, rather than how lightly.
The size of Huddersfield's fine was also in part because they were warned by the FA that they would be in breach of the rules before taking to the field in their controversial kit, which was emblazoned with an oversized Paddy Power logo.
Soccer Saturday Super 6
FREE TO PLAY: £250,000 is up for grabs
The Yorkshire club have since accepted and apologised to the FA, issuing a statement that read: "Huddersfield Town accepts the findings of the FA in this investigation, and chose not to appeal the sanction.
"We accept that our actions were in breach of regulations and we apologised for this error. We will not comment on this matter further as we move forward.
"We would stress that any comments on this sanction made by third parties do not reflect the views of Huddersfield Town."