Olli Harder: We must be the best version of ourselves
West Ham United’s players will need to push themselves to the limit to ascend the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table, according to manager Olli Harder.
Seeking a first league win in four games, the Irons travel to Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium to take on Brighton on Wednesday evening.
Harder’s side picked up a first league point under their new manager with Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Bristol City – a contest high on endeavour, if low on quality amidst frigid conditions.
But the match saw a recent trend perpetuate where the Hammers have produced strong second-half showings in response to below-par first-half performances, leading Harder to call for renewed focus from the offset.
“As a group of players and a coaching staff, we’ll have a discussion about what it is that’s happening leading up to the game,” Harder explained.
“We’re going to address it. We’ll pick up all the rocks and see what we can find. It’s not a trend we’d like to continue because it’s putting us on the back foot – I think Bristol City was the third game in a row where we’ve conceded in the first ten minutes.
“The performance levels weren’t acceptable in the first half and it’s something we need to address because we had the same issue against Chelsea.
“We obviously responded well against Chelsea and we responded well in the second half again against Bristol City, so it’s something we’ll look at internally.”
Wednesday evening’s opponents Brighton will enter the contest full of confidence having pulled off arguably the shock result of the Women’s Super League season so far on Sunday afternoon.
The Seagulls travelled to Kingsmeadow and defeated champions Chelsea 2-1 – in turn ending the Blues’ remarkable 33-game unbeaten run.
As a result, Brighton enter Wednesday’s game three places – and four points – above West Ham, albeit having played two fixtures more in their season.
If they can produce the quality that’s needed, especially in the final third, then of course life becomes a bit easier for us
But Harder has no doubt about the quality his side possess as they seek to kickstart the second half of their season with a win on Wednesday.
“It’s about inspiring those players to be the best version of themselves,” the manager confirmed. “We have enough talent here, it’s about making sure we perform.
“That’s easier said than done sometimes. For example, on Sunday, three points was not a must, but certainly something we were aiming for.
“The bottom line is when you have these chances that we do create, or even the half-chances that should be more, it comes down to quality.
“In my eyes, you either have the quality or you don’t have the quality, and the players need to show that they have the quality. I believe that our players have the quality.
“Now, it’s about inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves, and if they can produce the quality that’s needed, especially in the final third, then of course life becomes a bit easier for us.”
West Ham United women travel to Brighton on Wednesday 10 February in a behind-closed-doors fixture. Kick-off is at 7pm; you can watch all of the action live via the FA Player.