'Phillips has made a big impression on the squad'

Captain Julia Zigiotti reviews the WSL campaign and believes we can target a top-half finish next season.

By Luke Nicoli • 03 June 2023

By Kyle Hemsley
Julia Zigiotti in action against Everton earlier this month.

How do you assess the season overall?

It’s been a difficult year for us. We had a lot of players leave last summer, maybe not as many coming in, and then we’ve had four coaches taking the team – that has all had an impact on our performances in a league that is getting stronger all the time. When you have so many changes, it’s tough on the players, but full credit to the squad; we’ve stuck together in some difficult times and that says a lot about the characters we have here – it’s a really tight-knit group, we all back each other, and that has been really important.

Now Melissa Phillips is here as head coach, do you feel the stability has returned?

Yes, she’s made a really big impression on the squad. She has brought her tactical knowledge, she knows what she wants, and she is implementing a mentality which encourages the players to be the best version of themselves. We’re playing a more possession-based game now, where the focus is more on us than rather than what the other team is doing, and we have more of an identity now.

By Kyle Hemsley
Melissa Phillips took over in March and guided Albion to safety in the WSL.

What would you say has been the highlight of the season?

There have been a few. I think the Manchester City game at home was one where we gave a really good account of ourselves. Although we lost late on, we scored and we competed really well against a top side. I thought the home wins against West Ham and Everton were also good performances and important wins, which helped us move away from the foot of the table. We’ve had so many ups and downs, but we’ve shown in a number of games the potential we have in the side.

That was also evident in the FA Cup semi-final at Manchester United…

We really showed that day that we can compete against the top sides. It was hard to lose the game so late on, but we created chances and to play so well away from home, against a side that has been in contention for the title, gives us plenty of confidence moving forward.

By Kyle Hemsley
Vea Sarri celebrates after putting Albion in front against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.

So you’re confident we can have an improved season in 2023/24?

With the stability we have, the more we adapt to Mel’s philosophy and with more players no doubt coming into the club who she wants, I’m sure it will be better. It might not be top four, but we can be pushing towards the top half of the table. We have a good mix of youngsters and more experienced players, so I’m feeling positive for the team ahead of next season.

How would you assess your own performances this season?

If I’m honest, it’s been a bit up and down. I feel I’ve played better this season, adapted to the league better, and I’m trying to be calmer on the ball and to be a leader. It’s gone okay in that respect, but I know I can still get better with the more games that I play.

In terms of being a leader, you’ve worn the armband regularly this season. How have you found that?

I always try to be a player that leads by example on the pitch – not necessarily a shouter, but someone who shows the way in terms of performance. I’ve actually enjoyed having that extra responsibility on the pitch and have seen it as a real honour to be captain of Brighton in the WSL.

We’ve had individual success with Katie Robinson making her Lionesses debut and getting into the World Cup squad. How impressed have you been with her?

She has been consistently good all season and has deserved her call-ups. With Mel now in charge, I can see Katie getting even better, making that next step in her development, and that can only be good for all of us.


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Robinson heads to the World Cup!

You’ve got the World Cup to look forward to with Sweden this summer. Excited by that?

My main focus has been on Brighton, but once the season ends, I’ll be looking ahead to the tournament. I missed out on the Euros and Olympics, so I hope to make the most of the World Cup and hopefully get some game time. I’m hoping we can go all the way – you have to set your ambitions high – but we know we have some tough games [South Africa, Italy and Argentina are the opponents in the group-stage games in New Zealand].

Finally, a message for the Albion fans?

Just to say a big thank you for all your support this season. It has been fantastic and we’ve had some really big crowds at our games at Crawley.  We know it’s not easy with the extra travelling from Brighton, so we really appreciate your loyalty. You have also made a difference with the noise you make, so thank you again. Have a great summer!