Scottish Women's Premier League

Q&A #SBSSWPL 2020 – John Doyle, Partick Thistle

January 24th 2020

Ahead of the 2020 season, we’ll catch-up with every single Scottish Building Society SWPL team. From new Head Coaches, new signings, and new aspirations, it’s set to be another exciting campaign.

We spoke to Partick Thistle WFC Head Coach, John Doyle. This will be his first full season in charge of Thistle after joining the club during the summer break of the 2019 season.

How are excited are you for the 2020 season? Very much looking forward to the new season. This will be our second season in SWPL 2 and although we didn’t finish last season on a high, in general we had a decent campaign and are looking forward to see what this season will bring. With Stirling University coming down, Queens Park, Bouroughmuir Thistle and Aberdeen coming up, there is no doubt this will make the league stronger and more competitive, so similar to last season, each team will have to be at their best to get three points.

What do you make of the changes for the new season? With the league increasing to ten teams I think this restructure will make the league more interesting. With the potential of two clubs being promoted and play-offs being introduced, I think this can only be good for the women’s game and SWPL 2 in particular. There will be no doubt just like much of last season the league will be very competitive and even if you don’t start particularly well, there is still a chance you can put a run of results together that can propel you up the table and each club will feel they have a real chance of making an impact.

What are your aims and ambitions for the new season? With this being our second season at this level, we feel we have to be realistic and hope that we can improve on last season points tally. Going into the second half of the season we were in a good position and never really kicked on. Having lost our last two competitive league matches we missed out on third spot, but my management team and I are working hard to put the necessary changes in place to try and improve on last season.

Based on the other teams in the league, do you think this will be the most competitive season ever? I thought for most of last season the league was very tight and any clubs could beat each other on the day. As the season moved on though, Hearts and Hamilton proved to be too strong and the league became a two horse race. Again, on paper, with the number of teams competing it very much looks as though this season will be the most competitive to date.

With the new season around a month away, how have preparations been so far? Our pre-season preparations stared in early January and started well. We have introduced a different platform for the players this season in terms of our training and tactical work and so far the players have enjoyed the new regime. As well as training hard we have arranged several friendlies to integrate the squad together and hopefully we will see the benefits of that once we are in competitive games.

Do you have plans to/have you had much change to the squad? We have made a lot of changes to the playing squad from last season. I felt that for us to improve we had to make changes. Obviously this will have an impact on trying to build momentum, forge understanding between the players and how we want to play, and it will be a challenge but one we are looking forward to.

For perhaps new fans of the women’s game, who are some players in your squad they should look out for? It would be unfair to pick one particular player. I am hoping that fans can look at us and have a positive opinion on several players but to do well in this league it will need be a team effort.

As well, are there any new/younger players we may see more of in 2020? I am delighted we have signed three younger players for the coming season. Nic Millar from Glasgow City, Emma Craig from Celtic, and Jade Baillie from Rangers. Although these players are young they will make big contribution this season and have a very bright future in the game.

You start the new season at home to Glasgow Women. What do you make of that fixture? Our opening fixture is very tough one indeed and everyone will say the same. Glasgow Woman have made probably the biggest change to their club by bringing in a new Head Coach, coaching staff, and a complete overhaul of the playing squad. They have signed some fantastic players, most coming from Glasgow City Development, so they will already have that understanding with each other and their playing style, so it makes for a very tough game for us.

How important do you think it will be to get off to a good start? It would be nice to start the season off with a win, however I know that we will still be finding our feet with our squad and it may take time for our new players to gel, so it’s not essential to win the open game. To do well in this league you need to be ready for a marathon, not a sprint, and as long as we can improve each week, it will help us get to where we want to be.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and support your team this season? We are in our second season within the SWPL and hopefully going into next season fans will see good players working hard for each other first and foremost and appreciate the way we want to try and compete next season. We want to try and be more consistent and have the qualities that fans will enjoy watching. The women’s game is growing and SWPL 2 will be another exciting league this year.

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