Monday 8 October 2018

Reds number one Anke's admiration for team spirit

​“I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like this before in a team. Everybody is really close and I just try to give my team the confidence back that they offer me.”

Whatever else the 2018/19 season may throw at Liverpool FC Women, the squad are more than capable of handling it.

That's the view of goalkeeper Anke Preuss who believes the Reds have already dealt with the biggest challenge the campaign can put at their door.

“Everyone has noticed that it has been a tough few weeks with Neil Redfearn leaving his role,” she says. “But I think we have shown that this teams sticks together and everybody really wants to work for each other and make the best out of the situation. I think that connection will really help us through the season because we know already that we can handle difficult situations and there is nothing that can actually affect us more than something like that.”

The German keeper has made a fine start to her Liverpool career following her summer switch from Sunderland. As well as making a string of saves against Manchester United last time out at Prenton Park, she came up trumps with important saves in the penalty shoot-out win at Durham in the Continental Tyres Cup and then made some vital interventions during last weekend's Super League success at Brighton.

“I just have to say that I feel really comfortable with the girls here. I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like this before in a team. Everybody is really close and that obviously gives me a good feeling because I know that even if I make a mistake, nobody will give me a hard time for it. Everyone is just like, 'Ok, let’s work together to get a better result out of this.’ That means you can play without any fear and I think that’s really important as a goalkeeper because if you make a mistake, most of the time it ends in a goal. I just try to give my team the confidence back that they offer me. Yes, I have made some good saves which is nice but I just enjoy playing with the team and trying to help as much as I can.”

Anke made two saves in that penalty triumph at Durham a fortnight ago but did she enjoy the shoot-out experience?

“I don’t know if I enjoyed it that much during the actual situation because you are just so focused. I’m not afraid or anything like that though because the pressure is so much on the striker. I don’t have any pressure on me because if you save one, you are kind of the hero and if not, everybody expects the striker to score. A couple of minutes afterwards when I could look back on it I was really excited and happy but in that moment I was so focused and under stress that I couldn’t really enjoy it.

“I was well prepared because Jordan [Whelan], our analyst, always sends clips of the opponent before a game and shows us where they are most likely going to try to score the penalties. That’s pretty helpful. The rest is just about a feeling. You stand there and you sometimes feel, 'Ok, I think they’re going to go to that side an you just go with it. Hopefully it works out!

“It's hard to remember the information when it goes to seven penalty takers but the girls also helped me. I think it was the second one I saved, where Courtney [Sweetman-Kirk] knew the girl so she was on the edge of the area pointing to me!”

The former German Under-20s international knows caretaker-manager Chris Kirkland well having worked closely with him in his capacity of goalkeeping coach since his return to the club in pre-season.

“It’s really nice to work with Chris. It is always good to work with somebody who has that kind of experience and I think you can always learn a lot from a person like him. What is really nice is that he treats you like somebody on the same level. You don’t feel as though he looks down on you or anything like that. He just wants the best for us and it is a lot of fun to work with him. I am learning a lot.”

Kirkland has said that one of Anke's strengths is her willingness to take things on board and her self-critical nature.

“I think that's normal as a goalkeeper because obviously if you concede, something went wrong. Even if it’s a shot that appears to be unsaveable, you still think, 'Oh, maybe if I had done this a bit earlier or I had made that movement, I would have had a chance.' I think to be self- critical is just helpful to keep you going. When you stop doing that and thinking like that, you don’t develop any more.”

While the 26-year-old has relished the opportunity to work under Kirkland, she has also been highly impressed with the attention to detail of coach Vicky Jepson, who took charge for last weekend's win at Brighton.

“I think she does a really good job and the whole team is really happy about how she is handling the situation so far. Her sessions are really good, the speeches she gives before a game and at half-time are really helpful and she’s a good coach. There has been a lot of pressure on her but she totally blocks that out for the team so we don’t really feel any of it. That shows that she is doing a good job, especially when there has been a lot of attention from outside the club.

“Getting the win at Brighton was great and keeping a clean sheet was really important too. When you look back to the pre-season, we actually didn’t concede a lot in the first few games and we were really happy defensively. Then we had a spell where we conceded against Manchester United, in a really unlucky friendly game against Blackburn and then against Arsenal and Durham too, so it was important to come back with a clean sheet and give everybody the feeling, 'yes, we can actually do that’. Now we need to take the energy out of that for the next games.”

Liverpool F.C. Women face Yeovil Town this Sunday 14 October at Prenton Park. Tickets start from just £2.50 and are available online or at the turnstile.