Kirk Previews Chelsea Clash And Reacts To 'Sad' Stadium Vandalism

Read the key points from Willie Kirk's press conference ahead of Everton's home clash with WSL leaders Chelsea on Wednesday night (7pm GMT) below. As well as previewing the match and discussing Sandy MacIver's new two-year contract, the Blues boss gave his reaction to the mindless vandalism of Everton Women's purpose-built Walton Hall Park stadium last Friday...

Kirk on 'sad' Walton Hall Park damage and the ground's readiness for Wednesday's game…

It was really disappointing. A lot work has gone into Walton Hall Park to move there – a lot of emotional resource in terms of the staff who worked so hard to make it happen. 

Then, we have obviously put quite a bit of finance into it. It’s something we see as not just being for us but being for the community. 

It’s really disappointing people would target that as something to try to destroy. It was sad to get that phone call on Friday and hear about what happened.

Luckily, there is not as much damage as there could have been – the game will go ahead without any issues. I don’t think it will affect the players. The pitch is unaffected and the changing facilities are unaffected. 

On taking confidence from Everton’s 4-0 win at Birmingham on Thursday… 

I thought we had a slow start [against Birmingham] and were a little bit sloppy, in and out of possession. The first goal we scored was really well worked. After that, we found our rhythm and put in a really good performance. 

But if we start like that against Chelsea, there will not be a game to win. We need to start well, we know that from previous games against them. I thought we were a little bit fortunate in that game at Goodison Park [Everton’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win] that we survived that first 20 minutes only being a goal down. 

We showed a lot of resilience that day and fought our way back into the game and had a fantastic result. We’ll be looking at that game in terms of lessons learned and for our belief and confidence.

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03:49 Fri 12 Mar 2021


Lehmann hits first Toffees goal in convincing WSL win.

On team news for Wednesday’s game…

Sandy MacIver suffered three or four knocks in a challenge against Birmingham and one of them resulted in concussion. She is back on the pitch doing light training but won’t be available for Wednesday due to the concussion protocols.

We have got a very able deputy in Tinny Korpela, who is competing for a place every week. The only other one we’ll miss is Dan Turner, who has this niggling calf problem. I think it’s best to try to get to the bottom of it [before she starts a match]. 

On Sandy MacIver’s new two-year contract…

It’s brilliant. The contract is a good length for Sandy’s short and medium-term development and career aspirations. It’s a great deal for us to get that done and to move onto the next one, as we continue to build for next season.

On MacIver’s comments that Kirk was key to her decision to stay…

It’s nice to hear. I brought her to the Club, so we’ve got that bond, in that I had that belief to bring her here. And I’m sure all players love the manager when they’re being picked! 

You want your players to trust you, so it’s good to hear. It works both ways – we’ve got to trust the players. You get that trust every day by seeing them train and the way they apply themselves in training. 

It’s a really big signing for us going forward. Sometimes everyone always looks to new signings in the next transfer window, but I think contract renewals can be just as big, if not bigger. I think Sandy’s new deal is right up there in terms of that.

On the test Chelsea will provide…

I’ve said a number of times, I believe they’re the best team in the country. I think they’ll win the league. They’ve got so many options and so many ways of winning games. 

It’s a tough game for us but one that excites me as a coach and it’s one that excites the players. Chelsea standards are what we want to be comparing ourselves to, so it will be another chance for us to gauge where we are.

On whether Chelsea will be fatigued after playing in the Champions League last week and the Continental Cup final on Sunday…

I don’t think that will be the case. When you’re playing in big games and winning big games, I don’t think you get tired. 

They have fantastic depth to their squad. Ji [So-yun] and Pernille Harder didn’t play in the cup final, so they will definitely be fresh and motivated.

Tomorrow will be a very big game for them in terms of their league aspirations, so I can see why they were rested on Sunday.