Eileen Gleeson focused on building further success and continuing Glasgow City’s dominance of Scottish Women’s Football

The new Head Coach has signed a two-year contract with the club.
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When Scott Booth made the decision to step down from his post as head coach in June after a highly successful six-year stint at Glasgow City, many would have shied away from taking on the mantle of continuing the club’s 14-year domination of Scottish Women’s Football.

Trying to emulate a man that has guided City to six consecutive SWPL titles and two Scottish Cup Final victories, while also leading the team to the 2019/20 Champions League quarter-finals – their joint-best finish in Europe – will be no easy task.

But for Eileen Gleeson, it is a challenge that she is relishing.

It is a role that has been reserved for her for several months as chief executive Laura Montgomery confirmed no interviews were held for the vacancy, insisting the club’s board were willing to bide their time until they got the right person for the job.

Gleeson admits she will use that as motivation rather than any additional pressure.

Speaking in her press conference after being unveiled by the club, Gleeson said: “No it doesn’t add pressure on my shoulders.

“I think it was really a deciding factor in taking the role that the club and Laura placed so much value on my experience and my skill set in looking for me to become the new head coach.

“Of course there is pressure, which is only natural in a job like this, it’s a winning club that have won 14 domestic titles in a row.

“It’s not part of the contract that I have to win 15 it has to be said but that’s what I’m here to do, to try and add to that success.

“In terms of being the club’s number one target, that is really motivating for me.

“I feel that my philosophy is well aligned with the club’s personal philosophies in terms of continuous professional development.

“Glasgow City have had unrivalled success domestically and really pushed boundaries in the Champions League, so it’s my job to keep moving the club forward and continue that journey.”

Gleeson arrives in Scotland boasting an impressive CV.

Eileen Gleeson (right) pictured with Glasgow City chief executive Laura Montgomery at Petershill ParkEileen Gleeson (right) pictured with Glasgow City chief executive Laura Montgomery at Petershill Park
Eileen Gleeson (right) pictured with Glasgow City chief executive Laura Montgomery at Petershill Park

The UEFA Pro Licence holder enjoyed great success during her time in charge of Peamount United, winning six trophies in eight years including a domestic treble in 2010 before helping UCD Waves to a League runners-up spot and an FAI Women’s Cup Final.

She has combined her role with the international team, working alongside former Scotland coach Pauw since October 2019, while studying for a PhD in decision making in elite football.

Gleeson has been responsible for the scouting and integration of players to the Ireland squad, in an attempt to help increase the number of quality home-based players, while also working closely on opposition analysis and team preparation.

She admitted: “When I managed in Irish football for 25 years and made the decision to step away from management, I felt I’d reached the ceiling there in terms of learning or challenging myself.

“I just took another perspective and decided to learn the game from a different angle, from an academic angle and to improve myself as a coach.

“Analysing decision making is a vital for players. So much emphasis is now on physical capacities, maximising and tracking data and understanding how players make decisions.

“I’ll definitely be looking to bring some of that work into the training sessions, and hopefully help in developing the players.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch daily, having that daily contact with the players again, which you don’t get as often as an international coach.”

Reflecting on her time at Peamount, Gleeson highlighted becoming the first female coach to manage an Irish side to the knockout stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League during 2011/12 season as one of her biggest achievements.

She stated: “I had a great time at Peamount. When I was voted to take the job, the club said, ‘we’re always second or third but we want to win and take that next step’.

“I would always draw parallels between them and Glasgow City. Obviously, Glasgow play at a higher level, but it was a similar approach at Peamount, it was about maximising the resources we had or achieving beyond what had been achieved before in Irish football.

“It was a really enjoyable time. It was great to help with player’s development, to see them progress to international level and develop that pathway. It was really a great opportunity for me as a coach.

“Drawing PSG in the last 32 was nerve wracking and exciting all at once. I don’t think we were completely outclassed in terms of the performance.

Gleeson addresses the media for the first time at her press conference Gleeson addresses the media for the first time at her press conference
Gleeson addresses the media for the first time at her press conference

“They scored two goals in the last 20 minutes, so the differences in levels and the differences in resources came out but it was a wonderful opportunity for us to put Irish football on the map at that time.

“Yes, we lost, but we were beaten by a better team, so there was no great surprise or disappointment. It was a step forward.”

Gleeson will officially start her new role with Glasgow City on November 8th, with Grant Scott continuing to oversee first-team affairs on an interim basis.

The Dubliner is unlikely to make sweeping changes to the playing squad, despite being offered unlimited funds to strengthen further.

She added: “I’ll be with the Irish team for our upcoming international camp, but I’ll be analysing the games, I have access to them and I’ll be keeping an keen eye on the match against Rangers on Sunday.

“I’ve already met the staff so I will be liaising and touch base with them on the players progress.

“It’s important for me to have some kind of continuity. I’m coming in from a new country and we have a very experienced staff already in place, including Leanne Ross who has a huge understanding of what it means to be a Glasgow City player, so that for me will be hugely beneficial.

“I haven’t spoke to the squad directly yet, but I have a good awareness of the players and I’m excited to meet them soon.

“It’s a strong squad, there’s a great mix of experience and youth there with lots of potential and still lots to develop.

“A key factor for me and the club is to continue with that pathway and development from the underage structures and I think in terms of sustainability that is where we should be placing emphasis.

“In terms of the current squad, you’re always looking to add. There’s a very good core there so I’ve no immediate demands to bring players in.”

Rangers and Celtic have both invested heavily in their women’s teams in recent seasons and Gleeson reckons it is a huge positive for the Scottish Women’s Premier League as she welcomed competition from other clubs.

She stated: “I’m not focusing or concerning myself about money that other clubs have.

Leanne Ross of Glasgow City lifts the SWPL title during a Scottish Women's Premier League match between Glasgow City and Rangers at Broadwood Stadium on June 06, 2021, in Cumbernauld, Scotland (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)Leanne Ross of Glasgow City lifts the SWPL title during a Scottish Women's Premier League match between Glasgow City and Rangers at Broadwood Stadium on June 06, 2021, in Cumbernauld, Scotland (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Leanne Ross of Glasgow City lifts the SWPL title during a Scottish Women's Premier League match between Glasgow City and Rangers at Broadwood Stadium on June 06, 2021, in Cumbernauld, Scotland (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“I think it’s part of Glasgow City’s history that they’ve always maximised resources and haven’t gone beyond their means so that’s part of the culture here and that’s exactly what I’ll be continuing to do.

“I’m coming into a club that has a winning mentality already, has set high standards.

“Competition drives success and competition drives standards so we’re happy to have competition from the likes of Rangers and Celtic.

“It’s great that they have been backed financially and progressed because it makes us push more to become better as well.

“Changes will come with new personnel, but it’s having that continuity there for the players so that it doesn’t interrupt the performances.

“The performances have been good and what really stood out to me from watching the games and particularly the post-match interviews from Grant (Scott) and the players is that there’s always a feeling that we’ve done well, we’ve created chances, but we have another level.

“That drive to perform better, even though they’re winning games is really attractive to me and I’ll be focusing on that element of it.”

Gleeson is adamant the future of women’s football in Scotland is bright and will continue to flourish providing clubs continue to break new ground.

She said: “I don’t think Irish or Scottish clubs are going to be left behind when you have progressive teams like Glasgow City always trying to push boundaries.

“Yes, there will always be disparities between budgets in different countries, in different infrastructures, but it doesn’t mean you will be left behind.

“You’ve seen Glasgow City reached the quarter-finals of the UWCL. Was anybody expecting them to reach the quarterfinals? Maybe not but they’ve been there.

“History tells that there’s always opportunity for smaller countries, it’s how we push forward in the domestic league.

“If you take care of your domestic games, then you will always have an opportunity to progress to international level and play in the Champions League.”