Having just picked up the award for WSL Team of the Season on behalf of all of Chelsea, VAVEL UK spoke to Blues duo Fran Kirby and Millie Bright about striving for more next season.
Setting the pace
WSL and FA Cup champions, there were few times over the course of the season where the Blues looked genuinely rocked, a class apart, the first question was a simple one, from here, how do you prepare for the next season?
“I think firstly it’s to make sure all of us go away, switch off and rest, it’s been a very demanding season especially international players; it’s been non-stop. So, to go away and rest, mentally as well, switch off in order to come back fresh and focus which all the players will be. Then to make sure we hit pre-season with a good start, I’m sure everyone will be working hard and getting results so that’s just where we have to go from.”
Having missed out on the treble, once more coming undone in their pursuit of the Continental Tyres Cup, the season will still go down as a win in Kirby’s eyes.
“I think we want to win every trophy that’s available and it [the league cup] was a missed opportunity for us but Arsenal went and won it and deservedly so, they were the better team in the final.”
The attacker continued, “Ultimately, we’ve got a group full of winners and people who aren’t happy with not being in big finals and not winning big trophies, so I think it’s going to be a case of us going back to the drawing board and saying how do we push on and win every trophy that’s available, including the Champions League. Obviously, we were devastated to go out in the semi-final, it was a difficult tie for us, I think Wolfsburg thoroughly deserved to go through, they were the better team but we need to keep pushing ourselves to the limit, pushing ourselves every day in training and hopefully we can get more silverware.”
Knocked out of the Champions League for the third season on the spin by VfL Wolfsburg, the London side are inching closer to the final – and finally defeating the German champions – the likelihood of an English UWCL champion in the near future something Kirby can envisage.
“I don’t think it’s far off and we showed that being able to beat some of the top teams in Europe, as with Man City, and to have two English teams in the semi-finals was pretty special and all the teams in England at the moment are pushing on to win that trophy. It’s definitely in our ambitions at Chelsea to win it and I think in the next two or three years you’ll see an English side win that trophy – hopefully it’s Chelsea – but we’re pushing every day to get to that level and now that we’ve had a taste of being the semi-finals that really pushes us on to get to the final.”
Like a family
With a raft of new signings between the end of the 2016 and start of the 2017-18 season, Chelsea soon found their footing, the new faces around the team settling fast, a family feel key for Bright.
“When I signed in 2015 we won the double in my first season and I think the reason for that is it is like a family and it’s easy to settle; that was one of the first things I noticed. For me as a player I need to be comfortable to be in the environment I’m in. And Emma’s recruiting has been unbelievable, she’s picked the right players with the right characters, the right mindset coming into the club and that’s what made it easier for them to settle and be massive part of our team.”
For the defender, there’s always room for improvement, even if it comes down to nit-picking, the WSL champions will always strive for more.
“I think we’re a very open team and a very honest team, we’ve won the double but there’s many performances we’re not happy with, we’re a group of players and staff that are very demanding in our performances and we’ve had too many draws and for us we conceded too many goals, it’s a mentality that we have that we want to be the best and in order to do that, you’ve got to be picky and go back and reflect on those performances and that’s where we’re going to improve on next year.”