After a season on loan at Everton Women, Jill Scott is back in the Manchester City fold. “It’s good to be back, it’s like I’ve never been away,” she said in an exclusive chat with Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh.
But there’s no looking back as the 2021/22 season gets under way, with City already seeing off Everton 4-0 in their opening weekend match at Goodison Park.
It had been a positive start to a season bubbling with expectation, though Scott’s team-mates were shocked in Europe as Real Madrid inflicted an early Champions League exit.
Focus must quickly turn back to domestic matters as City look to build on their Everton route when they host Tottenham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
After four successive years as runners-up in the WSL, another summer of personnel changes has seen Man City with real hopes for a successful domestic campaign.
“Some of the football this team played last season, I was obviously keeping in touch with the girls and watching the way they were playing, I think it was having that belief really,” Scott, speaking before City’s Champions League disappointment, explained.
“Stepping away from it and watching it from the outside, the talent in this team is incredible and maybe you just go day-to-day and game-to-game and you might not reflect on how well they’re doing. I think just having that little more belief in the talent because it is certainly there and this team can challenge anyone.
“Speaking to the girls, they’ve really enjoyed it [under Gareth Taylor]. When new managers come in, it’s going to be different tactics and different tactical information so it’s been different in that sense.
“There’s a lot of detail on the pitch, but it’s been great because when you’ve been playing football for so long, it’s great to keep learning new ways of playing. Going to Everton, I learn a different style of play as well and I think that’s the beauty of football – no matter how long you’ve played, there’s always new things to learn.
“As the season went on, you can see there were certain things Gareth wanted to do on the pitch and it’s hard to implement them straight away. But after Christmas, you could see a lot more of his patterns coming out in our play and things like that.
“With anything, when you’ve had a manager for a large amount of time, there’s going to be that little transition period, but I think the girls did really well. They won the FA Cup again and guaranteeing Champions League football, but we also know we want to push on and get more silverware this season.”
Summer of Olympics, Euros on the horizon
It has been a busy summer for Scott, too. She was part of the Team GB women’s football team that competed at the Tokyo Olympics, eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Australia during extra time.
“Out of all the tournaments I’ve done, this was probably the most gutted I’ve felt, getting knocked out in the quarter-finals,” the midfielder reflected.
“I just think the squad that we had, it seemed like such a missed opportunity. But once the dust settled and you reflect on the year everybody has had with Covid and everything, I feel an enormous amount of pride that we went to the Olympics and were involved in such a big event. It’s not an event that is just about football, you play such a small part in it.
“I think the girls are very proud that we went and looking back on it, we’ll think of it as a great experience and something we shared together and created some fantastic memories. Then going back to our national teams, it gives us that extra drive that we need to go and medal the next time we’re in the tournament.”
There’s no respite either, with the Women’s European Championships set for summer 2022, played in England. It marks a rare and wonderful opportunity for the Lionesses to play a tournament with home support.
With new manager Sarina Wiegman taking over at the start of September, there are opportunities for every player to impress – including those entering their 21st season.
“People mention my age a lot, I’m 34, but I still feel good,” Scott added. “I still want to be playing and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have pushed myself last year when I went out on loan and pushed for the Olympics. All I can keep doing is controlling what I do on the pitch and how I train.
“But I would love to be involved. The tournaments I’ve been to over the years, they’re always the best memories of my life when I look back and it makes me want to stay involved.
“This is season number 21 for me so I need to get my head down, keeping working hard and see what happens.”
‘Seeing the growth of the game makes me proud’
Scott has played a vital role in the promotion and growing popularity of women’s football, having begun her career with Sunderland Women in 2004.
She has gone on with multiple trophies with Everton and Man City, as well as success on the international stage with England.
“One of my highlights was definitely when City won the league. We did the treble that year but for me, I’d waited to win the league for so long so to finally get to do it was amazing and hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.
“Watching the growth of the game, a massive thank you has to go to all the people who work behind the scenes. There’s going to be more games on tele this season and that doesn’t just happen – there’s a lot of work and people pushing behind the scenes and we’re the lucky ones who get to go on the pitch and enjoy a game of football.
“It’s fantastic, when I first started, I was traveling back and forth and now players are coming in, they get their breakfast, they’re training full time and there’s no excuse not to perform really. I’ve been fortunate to see the journey and growth of the game and it’s something that makes me very proud.
“I’m not someone who looks too far ahead and this season, I want us to hit the ground running with Manchester City, get some rhythm in our play, keep winning football matches and bringing silverware to this club.”
Boxx 2 Boxx
Away from the pitch, Scott is a new business owner. She opened her own coffee shop, Boxx 2 Boxx, in April and regularly has Manchester’s famous footballers visiting for a flat white.
Scott said: “It’s gone really well. I’ve always loved coffee, traveling around with football, and it started to get to the point where if I had a bad coffee to start the day, I would have a bad day so coffee has become very important in my life.
“An opportunity came up randomly really and it just all happened so quickly. Even now, I have to pinch myself, like ‘as if we have our own coffee shop’.
“I called it Boxx 2 Boxx because of the box-to-box midfield, I thought we could entice some of the male players down. I keep messaging them like ‘we need the best box-to-box midfielder to come down to Boxx 2 Boxx for coffee’.
“We’ve had some fantastic players come down, Kevin de Bruyne is the main one. I’m a massive fan of his and when he comes to the shop, I still have to keep calm because I just want to scream and say ‘ I love you, you’re my favorite player!’.
“The girls have come down too, we’ve had Lucy [Bronze], Steph [Houghton], Keira [Walsh], and some of the Man Utd girls too. Obviously there’s no rivalry when you’re in the coffee shop, I’m not pouring salt into the coffee or anything like that.
“But it’s just a nice place to chill, I love going there on my days off, just relaxing and drinking coffee. It’s what I would be doing usually and now I’m doing it in my own shop.”
With a plan under her belt for the future, Scott is ready and focused for the new season with Man City, and hopefully a successful Euros summer with England, too.