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Hey there!

How's things? I have to say, it's great to be back. Cheers for sticking with us. We've still got to wait a crazy EIGHT days until the Women's Super League returns, but that isn't to say there isn't plenty going on outside of it. This week I've been thinking about:
  • approaching hummus with caution
  • how kissing it better is the best medicine
  • the thickness of mince
  • whether Marc Skinner made any New Year's resolutions
I hope it's as much fun to read as it was to write.

Flora xx

Boo Times Two

Life is coming at Sam Kerr fast these days. First, she misses much of an historic home World Cup with an injury, then she learns she's losing Chelsea mummy Emma Hayes to the US women's national team. Wifing up Rachel Daly's ex-girlfriend brought some respite, but now she'll neither bring home that Champions League trophy for her mentor nor represent her country in the Olympics twelve months after she helped to switch her compatriots on, finally, to 'sokah' last summer.

Rough luck. To add insult to injury, Kerr didn't even get her big moment of drama. It's cruel that 80% of ACL injuries occur in non-contact situations. There ain't no bone-crunching heroism, here. Oop, I've turned on my heels and my season is over. How embarrassing.

Still, remember when Leah Williamson went down at Leigh Sports Village? Children were crying, TikTok was breaking, commentators led the public mourning and, thanks to a host of pitchside photographers, Leah got to relive her sad limp off the pitch like it was the log flume at Alton Towers.

But Sam Kerr did hers in private, living it up on a warm weather training camp in Morocco. After seeing Leah's fanfare and countless other public moments of knee-related trauma, imagine that THIS is how the world finds out that you've slipped on some hummus and no one can watch you play football for another eight to twelve months:
I was surprised to read that Kerr is being assessed by a specialist. Seems unnecessary when boo is on hand to simply kiss that boo-boo better. No backflips for you Sammy, just bedrest, spinach and plenty of nursemaiding from the 💕 Love Of Your Life 💕

Thank GOD for Kristie Mewis' transfer from New Jersey-based side Gotham FC to West Ham United. As if Sam Kerr's transatlantic phone bill wasn't bad enough already, just imagine the damage she'd do from the confines of her sofa, leg propped up on a cushion.
We've been here before. A few months after being the Player of the Tournament performer at a home Euros, Beth Mead was a few steps off world domination when a shonky ACL ruled her out of the 2023 World Cup.

Sam Kerr didn't even get to do the home tournament bit, not properly. Thankfully she got all the fanfare she craved when a @samanthakerr20 Insta post dropped news of her calf injury just hours before Australia were set to raise the curtain on an epic World Cup in Sydney. She didn't play as much football as she might have hoped but, even from the sidelines, she managed to help her side to success which transformed the country's interest in soccer.

Momentum isn't easy to come by in football, and now at the Olympics, Australia will bid for silverware without their star player.
So what about Chelsea? Losing one of your most important players to injury during a January transfer window is fortunate, as you've got more opportunity to fashion a solution. But is there any point in the Blues trying to replace a peerless talent?

Aside from being the greatest goalscorer in the world, Kerr is a figurehead, a source of wisdom and inspiration whose instinct and endeavour will be missed by Chelsea as they attempt to fill the gap in departing manager Emma Hayes' trophy cabinet.

There's a chance for Lauren James to step up and grow up, while the chips have fallen incredibly well for 20-year-old Aggie Beever-Jones, who has the best minutes-per-goal ratio in the division after scoring five goals in seven appearances so far.

In some respects, it tees up the ultimate finale to Emma Hayes' incredible stint at Kingsmeadow. Can she manage Chelsea to the Champions League trophy without Sam Kerr? The bigger the set-back, the better the comeback.

But the sentimentalist in me is sad to see the Hayes / Kerr partnership severed and one of football's most enduring romances prematurely ended.


Thankfully, there's a silver lining to all this, and it takes the shape of loud-mouthed London City Lionesses midfielder Ruesha Littlejohn throwing some shade.

If you've already forgotten, or missed it — Littlejohn is the Republic of Ireland player who opted not to shake Caitlin Foord's hand before the opening game of the World Cup since Foord is now dating her ex (and international team-mate) Katie McCabe. At the whistle of Ireland's 1-0 defeat to Australia, Littlejohn was then spotted pointing a finger in Foord's face before teammate Denise O'Sullivan pulled her away.

Sadly, McCabe's spectacular Olimpico wasn't enough to take Ireland out of Group A but elimination didn't stifle Littlejohn's interest in the competition. Ahead of England's semi-final tie against Foord's Matildas, she shared this post.
OK guys, we are clearly dealing with a person who doesn't give a shit what you think. And that's powerful.

This week, she and her twin sister Shebahn, who works for talkSPORT, went on camera to react to the news of Sam Kerr's ACL injury. It's a new year, but I'm happy to report that we've got the same old Ruesha.

Littlejohn criticised recent research into ACLs, stating that someone so "thick as mince" as her could easily have concluded, as the study did, that working too hard increases your chance of injury. When asked by Shebhan to clarify whether Kerr had attended the latest Australia camp, Littlejohn was quick to reply.

"Oh, I don't know," she said, then, without looking away from the camera, "Weirdly, I've not been speaking to the Aussie girls."


Before Christmas, Man Utd ended the year on a low by letting go of a 1-0 lead to lose at home to Liverpool. We're not even halfway through the season yet, and the Reds have already dropped more points than across the whole 2022/23 campaign. But of course, none of this could possibly be attributable to the man tasked with making the team play well.

When invited to reflect on this, Marc Skinner said: “We need to continue to invest to develop the squad" — read as, 'this is a problem for the higher-ups, nowt to do with me, the manager'.

Sure Marc.
Believe it or not, the fans weren't buying it, and made their thoughts on who is really responsible known last week, chanting 'we want Skinner out' when Man Utd went 1-0 down in a friendly against PSV.

Before long, a Man Utd security person came over and told them to stop it in a move which, the club have since stated, intended to 'de-escalate tension' between fans, players and staff.

I can't think which crazy person might be so upset by such average suggestions of Skinner's dismissal that they would instruct a member of security to poop on the party, but whoever it was, they've achieved the opposite of the desired effect, turning something which happens in football grounds everywhere, every single weekend into national headlines signal-boosting the calls for him to be fired.

Nice one, Marc.

Things I dig this week

Picture of the Day

Must be fun, life as a sport photographer. Hanging out pitchside, watching everyone be really good at football, seeing what the coaches are like away from the cameras, having a natter with the players.

You can see why snapper David Price uploaded this one. Two England footballing legends having a sweet moment between drills. Is Beffy sharing a joke with Leah? A fond memory? A hard-hitting fact about the significant sex difference in occurrence of ACL injuries? That's for David to know and for us to speculate about.

And speculate we will. That's what obsessive football fans do best. Which is why no sooner was this photo made available on the internet, it was hastily deleted. Not because of Mead and Williamson, but that mysterious figure skulking across the back of the shot.

Hm. It looks a lot like USA defender Emily Fox who, according to Wikipedia, is still at North Carolina Courage 🤔

Damn. Some journalist out there was hoping to feed their family off that exclusive. And the Arsenal media team might as well cancel those confetti cannons since the big-budget signing announcement is as good as redundant. Nice one, David.

Coming Up

  • Sunday - West Riding County First Division
    • My Leeds Hyde Park teammates and I are headed to top-of-the-league Ilkley Town this weekend. We beat 'em 4-2 on the opening day of the season but they've gone unbeaten in the league ever since. Let's 'av it.
  • Sunday - Division One North
    • Leeds United have the opportunity to continue their banging start to 2024 at Middlesbrough, where the Whites will hunt their first away league win since September. If they get it, they'll draw level on points with third-placed Boro.
  • The FA Cup fourth round
    • Last minnows standing? Luton Town, who compete in the fifth tier, are the lowest-ranked side still in the competition, and they'll host last season's semi-finalists Brighton and Hove Albion on a pitch that forced their third round tie to be postponed for sogginess.
    • Tightest contest of the round? Aston Villa and Everton are taking a week away from their upper-bottom-half-of-the-WSL-table mid-off to battle each other for a place in the fifth round.
    • Scalp of the round? with Champions League qualification slipping away, if Man Utd had a right-thinking manager, they'd not be committing too much focus and resource to the FA Cup right now. The Reds host third-tier Newcastle United who, after buying their way out of Leeds United's division last season, are yet undefeated in the league above.
Got something to say? Take a leaf out of Ruesha's book and let it out without regard for the consequences. You can always hit me up at [email protected] or by replying to this email. See you there 🫡

More at The Square Ball

Jess Rousseau running down the wing for Leeds United Women, earlier in the season against FCUM

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by Flora Snelson

Coming back to anything after a long break isn't easy. I played my first full ninety on Sunday and woke up Monday feeling like an exhumed bag of someone else's bones.
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