Collecchio, 14 October 2022 – Here’s what Head Coach Fabio Ulderici had to say on the eve of Como vs. Parma, matchday 6 in Women’s Serie A TIM, scheduled for Saturday 15 October 2022 at 14:30 at Stadio Ferruccio in Seregno (MB).

Fabio Ulderici, the Women’s Serie A is back up after the break and you’re at an important junction as you face Como…

“Yes, finally, league action is back because after the Roma game we wanted to put things right straight away, but we’ve had the international break so we’ve been put back a week. it’s clear that when a game doesn’t go your way, there’s a desire to get straight back out and play to put things right, instead when you have to keep waiting, unfortunately, the anger stays within you the whole time when all you want to do is get it out of your system. But we’ve got through the two weeks and the girls are eager to get out there in a what is an important game that kicks off a period where the league is now our focus. We’ve done the first part already, after having five really difficult fixtures but it doesn’t let up and we have further games that will be tough for us, but against sides on paper that are different to the others. We know that the game against Como is a crucial one and this next set of fixtures is going to be crucial: we’re hungry to do well and face it with courage and determination.”  

It’s not necessarily the league table that is worrying, but the last two performances. Since the Coppa Italia fightback by Cesena, we haven’t seen the Parma from before…

“I always say that the table shouldn’t be looked at in this period: the league will start to show itself in April because it’s divided into two phases. Now, we’re in a stage where we can say it’s a qualification period for the next phase. At this moment in time, the table isn’t that important: the numbers gained by each team doesn’t count for anything yet: there’s still a lot of time and many games to play. Obviously, for us, it’s important we have a reaction to our previous performances and try to get better so that we, first of all, get a result, and a performance to back it up. We need to do that for us and for all the people who believe in us, and for all those people who don’t and have criticised us since the beginning. This week, I read something that made me laugh: why aren’t Parma playing Banusic? Banusic has been injured for two months, at times things are written that aren’t even known about. So, we want to silence our critics as well because the girls are training really well, despite being a difficult moment. We’re not a side or a Club that laments injuries because it’s an easy way to find excuses. We have many players who are struggling with fitness and this is why they aren’t playing but we know that from who is available we have the quality to face every game, we believe in all of them. When we have everyone back, like I said last week, we’ll be a completely different Parma, but who we have available in this moment is still of Serie A quality.”

Speaking of Banusic: she’s in the squad list, does that means she’s recovered? Are there any other players back available?

“In our squad lists, we often announce players who are still injured but they still come with us to away games because we feel it’s vital for the players and the group. Actually, for this game, we won’t have anyone new back but it’s not an issue: I don’t want to waste energy and express to the girls that something is missing. Me, my staff and the girls are convinced that this squad ha everything it needs to do well at Como. Obviously, we’ve had to make certain choices regarding the formation and certain positions, as well as being forced into changing a style of play we want to do, because maybe you want to play a certain way but due to circumstances you can’t play that way with the players available and you have to change. But this doesn’t mean throwing the work done out of the window, or the beliefs of the Coach, but being intelligent enough to understand the situation you find yourselves in. We’ve changed slightly the way we play but when it’s possible we’ll also show we can other ways. I think the great strength of a group, I mean the players and staff, is when it can realise and understand a moment it is in and try to act on it, overcoming the difficulties it faces and going out onto the pitch with qualities and characteristics that can help the team. That’s what we’re trying to find.”

From the Primavera side under Coach Ilenia Nicoli, Giorgia Arrigoni has joined you, an’ Azzurrina, an Italy International player…

“Yes: Giorgia Arrigoni has joined us, and she is a great talent. She’s been with the Primavera side and has just played for Italy’s Women’s Under 19s in the European qualification stages. In my opinion, she’s a great prospect: not many players of her age play in Serie A, for example, there’s a couple of players for Como as well but not many others. I don’t consider age but how good they are, the quality they have, and their temperament. Micheli at Roma, Verrino at Milan and Nicolini in the first game against Inter, all come to mind: we’re a Club that have always put in young players; we’ve never held them back and put them in when needed, and if they are needed tomorrow then we won’t hesitate to do the same.”

What kind of team are Como?

“Como have so far performed well without the results they probably deserve, so, like us, they need a result and a performance. It’s really well-coached and their project has been going for a while now: they have reached Serie A this year and slowly but surely they are finding their feet and a way to stay here. We know their characteristics well and what may trouble us, but I’m thinking mostly about us and our players: we don’t need to think too much about the opposition, although we give them the upmost respect, that is vital. But the most important thing for us is to got out there and show ourselves to be determined, have a great desire to win and battle through every difficult moment that comes our way, which is sure to come, as it does for every team and at every level. Those who think tough times don’t come are mistaken: the big difference is how you face them and how you try to overcome them and we are really determined to do that, knowing that we’re currently finding some things difficult to do, so we have to use our heads and try to make things easier for us and overcome these difficulties.”

Parma and Como are the sides that have let in the mosts goals, and also from set-pieces, in this season’s Women’s Serie A so far…

“I think that these goals are the result of attitude. Most of the goals we have conceded have come from our mistakes, in particular goals from set-pieces where the opposition get at us too easily, and it’s what I was saying before: we need to show we have the quality and play calmly because many mistakes come from being panicky and rushed; we can’t let that happen because we know that in this league you get punished for every small mistake; we’ve seen it in all our games so far, I remember Giacinti’s goal for Roma; it was great goal but we gave it to her on a plate and it’s a mistake we just cannot make. The concept is clear, in this league we cannot make such simple errors, we need to show off the ball a strong attitude and desire to limit our opponents, to win our individual battles, to stop crosses in, to win headers in the box, second balls, etc, this is what gives you less risk in conceding goals.  We hardly ever let in goals from central areas; we’ve done a couple of times but that was only from pushing up and leaving spaces in-between the lines for a player to get into. We mostly let in from our errors when starting attacks, and from out wide with balls coming into the box, and from back post positions. In my opinion, we make individual errors connected to our attitude, because if I don’t want the opposition to cross, I must do everything to stop it. Obviously, if balls are easily allowed in, it makes things more complicated after.”

Regardless of Milan and Roma’s qualities, Parma were unable to score in both games and the statistics show that, along with Como, we have the worst percentage of goals…

“When you want to start off plays from your half, you need to have players with certain characteristics. We’re not a side built to play from the back and start off plays from there because most influential players, like Pirone and Martinovic, don’t have those characteristics. They are at their best when they have the ball at their feet, running at players in the final third, it’s there where we can make difference: if we ask them to get the ball in the middle of the pitch and play in there, they don’t have those qualities for there. Probably, we’re also not a side that plays on the counter because we don’t have inside forwards, so we’re a team that needs to  focus on possession and playing the game with a quick tempo. In this period, we have some technical issues in the midfield area and this is why we’re finding it difficult to build and create chances. We’re good at winning the ball back in central midfield areas but have difficult in keeping hold of possession, and consequently struggle to get our forwards to the opposition box to create anything dangerous. These are issues at the moment so we need to find a different way of playing based on the available players’ characteristics, because, as I said earlier, we need a bit more quality. For example: Ippolito and Banusic are two vital players because of their technical qualities, their unpredictability and their ability in one-on-ones: unfortunatey, at the moment they aren’t available so we’re struggling technically to bring the ball upfield, so we need to find another way. The explanation of our recent results is this, but we also acknowledge that we were facing two sides of the highest quality in Roma and Milan, who cut us off us in midfield. Even when you have the greatest wishes in the world, keeping the ball, pushing the backline up higher, the defence still need the time to do: if we are defending tightly, and we win the ball back, but then give it away, our defence is still there deep; if we, instead, win the ball back and are able to play out with quality and keep the ball then we can come out and open up a bit more, so it’s clear to me that our attacking difficulties come from here.”

How are the girls mentally?

“It’s normal after a few weeks like we’ve had that there’s some bitterness; we were all saddened with the performance. I always say you have to accept defeat in a game, but it’s how you lose that’s important. We’re unhappy because of this, we weren’t able to perform they way we wanted to and that comes down to being competitive, that is needed as part of our work. Once this is recognised, you face difficult moments knowing that the best way out of it is to trust yourself, be united, and go forward with short-term goals, because long-term ones can’t be touched in that moment. We need to concentrate on our short-term objectives; we’ve made a pact between ourselves and these are very important: we’ve agreed together that we want to arrive at certain points within a certain time so from today our league starts. Is that easy? No. But is it possible? Absolutely it is, because we are good enough for this level.”