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Rachel Corsie: My highs and lows of 2022 after a whirlwind year with club and country

Rachel Corsie in action for Aston Villa. Image: Shutterstock.
Rachel Corsie in action for Aston Villa. Image: Shutterstock.

My 2022 started with a move to Aston Villa and as I reflect on it now, I probably look at the year by splitting it in half due to a lot of transition and change.

Around this time last year, I didn’t really know if I had any sort of future in America with Kansas City Current, but I remember having those first conversations with the owners and I knew I probably wouldn’t be going back.

When I returned to the WSL and joined Villa on deadline day in January 2022, the first half of the year was about me finding my feet again and adjusting to being back home.

I don’t think a lot of people knew about the situation with the American league when I arrived back in England, which was maybe a blessing because we focused on the football, but I had to process a lot of stuff on my own.

My first minutes for Villa were against Chelsea in the FA Cup – two days after signing. It was a really difficult game, but I was just glad to get back on the pitch with a club who wanted me there.

Rachel Corsie
Rachel Corsie signed for Aston Villa in January 2022. Image: supplied by Aston Villa.

I then caught Covid quite soon after joining the club, which was tricky to get over, but what I remember from my early days at Villa is I was just enjoying my football.

There wasn’t the same additional pressure that I felt, or the weight that I had had to carry on my shoulders, during my time in America over the previous 12 months.

I had lived in a world where a lot of my time was spent worrying about other people and putting them first, but when I came to Villa I tried to prioritise myself more and I remember how much I started to enjoy training and playing again.

The 2022/23 season felt like a fresh start

Almost a year after joining Villa, the club and Birmingham feel more like home, and that’s helped my football mindset change, which in turn, made the start of the 2022-23 season in summer feel like a complete fresh start.

I was able to start the season, rather than coming in in the middle of one, with a new mentality, new responsibilities after being named Villa club captain and in a new position on the pitch.

For most of the season so far, I’ve been playing in midfield and, although I fear it might cut my career short… I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.

I started my senior career as a midfielder, however, I quickly became a centre-back, but I have always loved anytime I got to play a bit further up the pitch.

It has taught me different things about my game and how to change it up.

There are things I’ve been able to learn from because it’s one thing to play in a different position the odd game, but it’s another to be playing there week in, week out at the highest level.

As for 2023, we want to finish in the top-half in WSL, which will be challenging – we just dropped out of the last spot with the results before Christmas – but we are a team who set ourselves high expectations.

There is also the hope of silverware, as we have reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup where play Arsenal away on January 25, before starting our FA Cup run in the fourth round against AFC Fylde four days later.

Scotland made progress in 2022 – and 2023 is a chance for more

It has been a year filled with ups and downs for the Scotland Women’s National Team.

We started the year at the Pinatar Cup in Spain, and we knew that was to be an important point in our journey with new manager Pedro Martinez Losa.

We made a lot of strides during that week and off the back of the camp we had one of our best performances of the year against Spain, even though it did end in a 2-0 defeat.

As a squad, we felt that game was a reflection of development and the hard work we had been putting in in the first six months of Pedro’s time as manager – it felt like things were coming together.

In the second half of the year, the World Cup play-off semi-final against Austria showed our improvement, again, as we beat a tough team who had done well at the Euros in the summer.

Abi Harrison heads home Scotland’s extra-time winner against Austria. Image: SNS

But we ultimately lost the play-off final against Republic of Ireland, and that was the one that mattered, so the competitive year ended on a low and I think that’s what we as players will remember.

It’ll be difficult not to carry that World Cup blow into next year, even though we have some exciting games to look forward to in February, because a lot of the focus will be on other countries preparing for a finals we won’t be at.

We do have an inaugural Nations League campaign to look forward to in 2023, though, and we have seen the benefit and success of the competition with the men’s team.

The start of the year our focus will be geared towards preparing for that, and I’m expecting to see a shift within our squad as those who were once considered the “young” players become the experienced ones.

As a core group of players, we need to ask a bit more of ourselves to make sure we do get the results in 2023 and beyond.

We don’t want to keep saying after every qualifying campaign “we were so close” –  we want to secure qualification.

WSL domestic transfer fee looks set to be broken

It looks likely Beth England will break the domestic transfer fee in England, as it has been reported she will be moving to Tottenham Hotspur from Chelsea once the transfer window opens, in a deal worth £250,000.

It does seem like a move which would suit all parties, as she hasn’t been getting the game time she wanted, or needs, if she wants to be selected for England’s World Cup squad in the summer.

Beth England. Image: Shutterstock.

The reported fee is great because it puts to bed the argument that there’s no value in women’s football, and it’s transfers stories like these which attract people to the game.

However, from a budget perspective that is a really significant sum and if money like that was invested in the infrastructure and resources given to a women’s team, it would have a big impact.

The rate the women’s game is growing, transfer fees and salaries are going to keeping increasing – but I don’t know if the same level of progress is being mirrored in all aspects of the game.