Colin Bell doesn’t quite go so far as to declare that the girls in green need to turn it up to 11 but, as a fan of Jurgen Klopp’s brand of ‘heavy metal football’, the new manager of the Irish women’s team certainly places a high value on intensity.
For the record, the Leicester-born 55-year-old also likes his music “loud and heavy”, name-checking Motörhead and Rammstein among his favourites.
The Klopp reference is no idle one: the pair worked closely together at Mainz when the Liverpool boss was making his first waves in management and Bell was in charge of the German club’s U23 side. “It was a fantastic time,” says Bell. “This was when Mainz developed this football philosophy that you can see in Liverpool, obviously now with more quality players. It was a thing that I also took to: to play high-intensity football, to kill the game of the opponents and bring your own game through.”
It was an approach Bell would also bring to bear as manager of the Frankfurt women’s team which won a Champions League title in 2015.
“I thought that in Frankfurt they played a little too slow and I wanted it to be played much faster,” he says.
“Passing faster, more intensity against the ball. It took a few weeks but then we beat Bayern Munich 4-1 at home.
“Previously, Frankfurt had lost their last five games against Bayern but we absolutely murdered them on that day. And that was a signal for the girls that they could do it.
“I love that kind of football but I also like to have the ball. It’s a standard saying from me but if you need three passes to score, then don’t take four, take three. But if we need 30, then we have to be able to play 30 passes. I want to have a good blend, a good mixture.
“Football is my passion and I want the players to play with this passion when they’re representing their country. When that green shirt is on, they should be really on fire. It’s got to be intelligent as well but I love that high intensity and power. And the Irish girls have that. They have this bite and we’ve just got to channel it now into a good way of playing.”
He accepts, however, that there is a considerable gap to be closed between the women who play part-time football here and their full-time counterparts in Germany, noting that Ireland’s Diane Caldwell — who played under Bell at his most recent club, SC Sand — has benefited enormously from training six or seven times a week at the highest level.
“The DFB is the richest association in the world but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t beat Germany on a good day,” he says. “I want to instil that in the girls. I’d like each girl to have an individual training plan in line with what they do with their clubs. What I would also love to do is get the home-based players in once a week to do some stuff with me, especially the girls around the Dublin area. I’ll be definitely looking at these kinds of things to improve the amount of sessions they have. The girls are going to have to go with it and buy into it. If we want to be successful, we’ve got to go this way. There’s got to be more intensity.”
The Irish seniors will resume their bid to qualify for a first major tournament when, after the draw in late April, their next World Cup campaign kicks off in September.
But the first test under Bell will be next month’s Cyprus Cup tournament, in which Ireland are grouped with the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Wales, and for which the new manager — who confirmed yesterday that he will be based in Dublin for the duration of his two-year contract — named the following squad:
Emma Byrne (Brighton & Hove Albion), Amanda McQuillan (Shelbourne Ladies)
Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jetta Berrill (UCD Waves), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Louise Quinn (Unattached), Megan Campbell (Manchester City Women), Savannah McCarthy (Glasgow City)
Julie-Ann Russell, Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Katie McCabe (Arsenal Ladies), Denise O’Sullivan (Houston Dash), Roma McLaughlin (Shelbourne Ladies), Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic FC Women), Megan Connolly (Florida State University)
Stephanie Roche (Sunderland Ladies), Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Noelle Murray, Clare Shine (Glasgow City), Leanne Kiernan (Shelbourne Ladies).
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