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2018 was a year of progress but let’s hope 2019 can be even more positive

first_imgI then progressed to Juventus in May last year and Cristiano Ronaldo followed! The transition has been all that I expected and more. There are big differences in terms of fitness days, rest and recovery, nutrition and technical adaptation that have all helped me to develop further as a player, which is what having a new experience is all about – getting better. I have had a few embarrassing moments with the language, including asking for a plate of dog at a team dinner which was met with hysterics, but I aim to be able to give a post-match interview in Italian by the end of the season. So the pressure is on.It was fantastic to end the year scoring a hat-trick and finish with nine goals and six assists in 11 league games. If someone had told me that would be my goal return so soon into my time at Juventus, I would have definitely taken it. I guess when you see Ronaldo hitting the ground running with the 10 plus goals, I can only be inspired to do the same. I hope to continue this form with some silverware to show for it at the end of the season.Unfortunately I cannot say the same in terms of progression for other areas of the game such as racism. We saw specific incidents in 2018 that instead demonstrated regression. Whether it was a banana skin thrown at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, racial abuse hurled at Raheem Sterling or the targeting of Sterling by sections of the media, I think 2018 was a wake-up call for the game. We need to do more and be even firmer to eradicate racism. However, on a positive note, there seems to be much more openness in discussing how to deal with this problem.Racism is a part of life and it is naive to think it is going to be eradicated. Here in Italy the year ended with monkey chants aimed at the Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the match against Internazionale on Boxing Day. As Carlo Ancelotti requested, the game should have been stopped and the referee should have taken more control of the situation in the same way he would do if there was a bad tackle. If a player has been affected by racist chanting, then it is up to the officials to stop the game and make sure a message is read out to the supporters asking them to stop. Most clubs say they will not tolerate any forms of discrimination – that cannot be something that is just said. It needs to be acted on.In 2019, if such incidents happen again, I am more concerned about the punishments. I liked the immediate action that will have a direct impact on Inter by closing part of the stadium for two matches. I would also like to see points docked or entire stadiums being closed if it continues. I believe clubs will start doing something only when it really has an effect in terms of points. If they are deducted three points when they are trying to win the title, then they might take it more seriously. Many will say the punishment handed out to Inter was not enough but once upon a time nothing happened at all, so at least there has been progress. Hopefully fans will see that shouting racist abuse has a negative effect on their team and that will stop them doing it. 2019, World Cup fever No 2: England and Scotland go for glory in France Read more The turn of the year left behind 12 months to remember personally on and off the field but also from a wider perspective in football.On the pitch if I could summarise 2018 in one word it would be progress. Progress for the England men’s team who, perhaps unexpectedly, reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. They continued that momentum by qualifying for the Nations League finals beating top nations such as Spain with the exciting, fearless brand of football we have all been craving to see from England. I was fortunate to be at many of England’s games in Russia working for ITV, which again exemplified the progress within the media working as a female pundit at the men’s World Cup. We now see so many female footballers contributing their opinions on men’s football on a weekly basis to the extent it is becoming normal. Long may that continue in 2019. comment Read more Share via Email Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Sportblog Topics Share on Pinterest England women’s football team Football European club football Share on WhatsApp Juventus England Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content We are only six months away from the Women’s World Cup in France. It is amazing how once the year starts it all seems that much closer. After such a positive World Cup for the men in Russia I hope the same can carry on to the women’s team, although they are in a slightly different position, given the women have reached back-to-back World Cup semi-finals and have bigger expectations. In terms of the world rankings and the previous tournaments I think the expectation will certainly be for England to win it because we have the level of experience to make that happen. Now the draw has been made I think it is important England start the year keen to build momentum in the friendlies leading into the tournament.In the Premier League we see Liverpool in pole position in the title race. I mentioned at the beginning of the season that Liverpool would be the challengers to Manchester City after the former’s fantastic Champions League run last season. Jürgen Klopp has shown how great a manager he is by building such an exciting team with a defensive core in Virgil van Dijk that has been unshakeable. Finishing 2018 unbeaten is no mean feat but we have all seen Liverpool falter in the title race towards the end of the season when it really mattered, such as in 2014. I do not believe the same will happen this season and this could finally be the year to end the long wait for the Premier League trophy at Anfield. Share on Facebook Women’s football Liverpool ‘No idea where money goes’: Fifa urged to help Somalia’s women footballerslast_img read more

Read More 2018 was a year of progress but let’s hope 2019 can be even more positive