Last week, Arsenal sealed the signing of Australian international Caitlin Foord. Tim Stillman caught up with manager Joe Montemurro after Sunday’s 2-0 victory over West Ham to talk about what she can bring to the squad.
On the most recent edition of the Arsenal Women Arsecast, time and again our Thorns and Matildas experts talked up Caitlin’s versatility. She can play as a full-back or a winger on either flank or as a number 9. I put it to Joe that she sounds like ‘a very Montemurro player.’ “I’m glad that there is a Joe Montemurro type of player!” he chirps in response.
“She’s dynamic, she’s explosive, she’s very good on the ball. Great character too, really great person for the group, we’re really happy to be able to bring her in. She can play centrally, she can play out wide, she can play a bit lower too. She’s also played for her national team as a right-back and you know me and my winger-cum-full-backs!”
As much as Foord fits the Montemurro prototype for versatility, the Australian coach says he brought his compatriot in because she offers something different too. “She gives us more versatility up top,” he points out. “She’s a little bit different to some of the players we’ve got, she’s quite powerful in the final third, so she nicely complements what we’ve got already.”
I put it to Joe that her ability to play as a centre-forward is significant, buying a back-up centre-forward is difficult when you possess a talent like Vivianne Miedema- no out and out number 9 is going to sign up to compete with her. I ask if buying a player who can play centrally but contribute in other positions was the key to the transfer. “You’ve just answered your own question!” Joe jokes.
“I looked everywhere for a bit more versatility and, yes, the fact that she can also provide back up for Viv when needed was important. I looked for this sort of player and I think she was the correct one to bring in.” It’s not just that Caitlin can play as a 9, but the way she plays it is important. In the Arsenal Women Arsecast, both Samantha Lewis and Aidan Gibson spoke about her ability to move away from the front line and combine with others- one of Miedema’s key duties for the team.
“We don’t really play with that number 9 target player,” Montemurro explains. “Sometimes we do need to, but in the main it’s about fluidity and she’s very good at coming in short and combining with others and allowing teammates to run in behind. She’s a really strong combination player, wherever she plays.” Foord is currently away with the Australian national team until February 9th, but should be able to make her Gunners debut shortly after.