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After a trophy-laden period of four years, three of which were as full time professionals, Fulham are beginning a time of transition which has also seen the majority of their England players leave for new pastures. Stories of an 'exodus' and 'mass departures' have indicated a gloomy season ahead for the Cottagers, but manager Marieanne Spacey is very excited about the club's future. In a candid interview with Women's Soccer Scene, Marieanne reveals the long term plans at Motspur Park and satisfaction ahead of the new season.
"I feel good, and ready for the new season," she says. "It's actually been very good this summer, we've got a good bunch of girls who are keen to listen and learn and show great enthusiasm."
Last week Fulham beat Watford 4-0 for their second pre-season friendly win, new signing Kelly Baker from Southampton Saints scoring along with Tammy Waine, Dani Bird and Katie Wilding. "We've got to look at the bigger picture," adds Marieanne. "The club had a transitional period at the end of last season - the players had three years as professionals and last year they played in Europe but that period is now over.
"We had great success with the previous players and now we want to look at the next four years and bring in youngsters who will improve and develop. There has been no acrimony or any hard feelings. We've got what we want at Fulham and they've got what they want, a new challenge somewhere else and good luck to them.
"We just want to have a low-key season of developing players from our new academy at Kingston College. There are players with fantastic potential at this club but I am not going to put any pressure on them, I just want them to play. Everyone is training hard and buzzing - every session has been enjoyable. The girls have worked really hard and there is a good atmosphere in the club.
"Fulham is not in disarray, we are not falling apart. We've got an academy with good youngsters and people are approaching me to play, so how can we be in disarray? We have got the full backing of the board, including financially, and I am positive and optimistic about the future."
One change that has to be made though, is the appointment of a new club captain, and Marieanne has handed the role to defender Jess Wright. "Jess is a great character, bubbly and a good talker on the pitch as well as a fine player. We have a great rapport with her and she has got the respect of the staff and the players. Vice-captain will Sanchia Duncan, one of the former professionals and a big part of the squad. Sanchia is one of the more experienced players, while still young."
Marieanne has now been in the job for just over a year, so what does she feel she has learned in that time? "I've learnt loads," she replies. "I've made mistakes - I'll put my hands up to that - but I've learnt from them and I don't want to make those mistakes this time. But I think I am stronger for it and other managers have given me a lot of confidence and have been complimentary. Vic (Akers) and Keith (Boanas) have both been there for me and have given me some good advice, and I am grateful for that."
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