Jonas Eidevall: Conti Cup press conferences cast ‘a dark shadow over that game’

As Arsenal prepare to face Bristol City at Meadow Park on Sunday, Jonas Eidevall revealed that he will not be present on the touchline after he left the technical area during the Conti Cup Final a fortnight ago.

‘I am allowed to be in contact with the bench through telephones or radios,’ explained the Gunners boss. ‘I’m allowed to be in at half-time with the team. I’m just not allowed to be on the bench and in the technical area. I’m not allowed to shout but believe it or not, I have other ways to communicate other than shouting!’

The Conti Cup Final saw Arsenal retain their title, thanks to an extra-time strike from Stina Blackstenius. The match was subject to a lengthy stoppage in play at the end of regulation time, with Frida Maanum needing extensive treatment after she collapsed on the pitch. The Norwegian did not link up with her national team during the recent international break, instead focusing on rehabilitation with the club.

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‘Everything is looking good and that’s the most important thing. She’s on a graduated, monitored protocol now to return to play. She will not be available for selection on Sunday but after that, if everything goes as planned, it looks promising for her to be available to play again.’

Maanum’s collapse was not the only moment of note in the latter stages at Molineux though, with an altercation between Eidevall and Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert resulting in a brief tussle between the manager when the final whistle rang.

The resulting press conferences stole much of the media attention, and Eidevall reflected that ‘that was a real pity because it was obviously such a nice moment for the team and the club to win the second trophy here in two consecutive seasons and in the way that we did it and with players’ performances that I thought was incredible but sort of drowned in the noise.’

‘You have a player like Laia Codina coming in at half-time, she basically doesn’t put a foot wrong in the whole game and has a massive part. You have players like Manuela Zinsberger that pulls off this amazing save in the 85th minute that makes us stay in the game and gives us the opportunity to win it. Lotte Wubben-Moy starting, a rock in the defending line for 120 minutes, Arsenal through and through.’

‘There are so many of these individual stories and I thought they performed at a really, really high level. If there is only one thing that I think had some dark shadows over that game is that they didn’t get fully in the spotlight they deserved.’

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At the time, Eidevall labelled Emma Hayes’ post-match comments as ‘irresponsible’ – and it’s a viewpoint that he stands by to this day. The FA opted not to take action against the Chelsea boss, but Eidevall reiterated that ‘the comments that I heard after the game were very irresponsible and they were not mirroring the conduct that I had in the technical area. That, I thought, was irresponsible, but that’s basically all I think about it. The other parts, I think when we shake hands after the game, that’s a very minor incident. For me, that’s nothing.’

‘It’s never nice when people say something about you that you don’t find it’s true. Maybe I’m lucky in that situation that everything I do is recorded. So for me it’s not my opinion or someone else’s opinion. Everything is on video, everything is recorded, so I need to be accountable for my actions and that’s what I take responsibility for. In these situations here, I am accountable for that, I’m very happy with the way I conducted myself and I wouldn’t do anything differently if I could re-do it again.’

But as attention turned to this weekend’s match against Bristol City, the Gunners boss was keen to pile on the praise for Lauren Smith’s side. The Robins remain rooted to the bottom of the Barclays Women’s Super League table, but their performance against Arsenal at Ashton Gate earlier in the season was arguably one of the highlights of their season.

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‘I think they have been a very, very competitive side,’ explained Eidevall. ‘They ask a lot of different tactical questions for you as a side. They obviously have had a long time to prep for this game. I think it might be three weeks now without a game, so we need to take that into consideration as well. We know we need to play at our very best in order to be able to win the game.’

Asked whether being favourites against Bristol City could be Arsenal’s downfall, Eidevall returned to one of his stranger analogies to explain his side’s mindset. ‘This is the thing and I’ve made that comparison before with a plane crashing, and that you need to check all systems and you need to go through all protocols in order to make sure that something is not failing that makes the plane crash.’

‘It’s the same when we play a football game, I can’t tell you beforehand which run is going to be the important one to win the game, or what pass, or what action. Therefore you need to treat everyone 100% and it’s the same with all the games that you’re playing competitively. I never have the mindset of thinking about games that are easier or harder. It’s a competitive game, it’s the next one, it requires 100%.’