Whichever team they’re playing, Evertonians are known for their passionate support – and it’s vital for any new manager or player to understand what motivates that support.
It would seem unlikely that a Dane who has never been outside his own country would understand a club like Everton so instantly – but Brian Sorensen seems to have done just that.
With several new players following him through the door this summer – more on that next – he even asked a local poet to speak to his team about what it means to be a candy.
In an exclusive interview ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby, live Sky SportsSorensen said: “I’m from the province where we worked hard and I worked really hard to be where I am now.
“As such, Everton is a people’s club and I’m a people’s man, so all those identities aligned.
“The potential here is huge, the set-up we have and so on.
“With the fans, we hope we can build that fan base even further and ensure we become even more embedded in the hearts of Evertonians.
“This is important [the players] feel what it means to the community and to the club. You could see what it meant when I met with one of the fan groups, I could hear and see what it meant to them.
“For me, it was how do we get that message out in a different way, so it’s not always me talking about it.
“Having [the poet] in was very good – not amazingly good because I think that was the plan with doing it – but looking back, it was very powerful and moved me too.
“I hope it makes them understand what it means to be at this club and represent this club.”
As Sorensen himself tells Sky Sports, this season is about consolidation for Everton. They had a turbulent 2021/22 season, which saw three different managers and a brush with a relegation scrap.
The Dane came with great pedigree from Fortuna Hjorring in his homeland, having won league and cup titles during his career as well as competing in the Champions League – all long-term goals for the Toffees.
During the summer, he targeted players from Scandinavia as well as young loan talent from across the WSL, such as Manchester City’s Jess Park, Chelsea’s Aggie Beaver-Jones and Manchester United goalkeeper Emily Ramsey.
And his transfer strategy was not a side scheme: Sorensen presented his thoughts to the Everton board during the recruitment process, with the likes of Park and Beaver-Jones all mentioned at that early stage.
He explained: “I’ve always tried to scout mindset before skill set. Of course, the skill set has to be high to compete at this level, but mindset is the most important thing – those two things are key to me.
“Then I see the potential, where we have great potential to grow and that’s why we’ve given loans from other clubs because we can give them the platform to grow. We’re giving these players the opportunity to play at the highest levels, so hopefully, one day, he can go back to chelsea and city and become a top player.
“Some of the players we have here may be recruited from other clubs, but if you create that identity, people also want to come here and it’s easier to recruit along the way.
“Recruitment is key and we’re trying to be smart, especially with development potential. It’s important to have players now who are at the start of their international careers, some of them I know from working together in the past and some of them have been in margin, but you can see there is a possibility here.
“A lot of the targets like Jess Park and Aggie Beever-Jones were on my list when I presented it to the club with ideas and what I want to do. It’s a strategy that has been scrapped, there was an early approach to talking to clubs and building of that trust with them and also that they could see that it made sense to come here.”
Sorensen also has a clear idea of how he wants his new Everton side to play, adding: “We have a clear structure in how we want to build. We can break it down into four phases and in those phases, he will try to have the control and there will be play patterns that players can recognize so we can play quickly.
“We also have this clear structure to get out of it and sometimes the magic really happens. We have a strategy to push, we’re not going to sit back, we’re going to be proactive in everything we do. Try to be on the front foot and aggressive, basically controlling as much as we can, but also without the ball, try to control it with a really organized pressing.
“That’s my philosophy – be in control, be proactive without getting into small details.”
Sorensen will hope his philosophy is put to full use when Everton take on local rivals Liverpool in the first Merseyside derby of the season, live on Sky Sports Premier League, Football and Main Event from 6.30pm. of Sunday.
Everton’s away mood for the match at Anfield is sold out. It will be Sorensen’s first time at the famous stadium and he will be hoping to make an immediate impact in his first derby.
“I wasn’t a Liverpool or Everton fan when I was younger, but watching those games, I always did because you know it’s a special day. Others like Celtic-Rangers, Barca-Real, Inter-Milan, all those are big games, that’s how I always watched them in my house in Denmark when I was a kid.
“Liverpool v Everton is always up there, every time they meet it’s something you put in the calendar. I’ve never seen it live so I don’t know what it’s like, but I’m looking forward to it. to be a part of it and hopefully I can have a say in it to prepare my team in the best possible way.
“Many of the international players here have tried these kinds of games [in big stadiums] so it’s not new to them and we have a lot of experienced players here who have played in derbies so they know what it’s like and how it feels.
“I’m not worried that it’s going to get us out of a bit of a mess because there’s a lot of people there [at Anfield]. I hope Everton away will be the strongest and they are the ones we can listen to and kill people with our football in terms of dominating the game and closing them down a bit. But otherwise, we’re looking forward to the atmosphere and the intensity.”
Liverpool pulled off a shock 2-1 win against Chelsea in their WSL debut last weekend, so how does Sorensen prepare Everton to face a confident Reds side?
“They’re very organised, a good team. They’ve been together for a while, they haven’t made that many extra signings because the core group has been intact,” he reflected.
“They have a style of play that everyone knows, they are very well organized and they work very hard. They are probably one of the most difficult teams to play against in terms of how well organized they are, but I also think that we can hope that we can We have to be careful in the set-ups phases and on the far sides where they are really special.
“We’ll try to prepare as best we can and at the end of the day it’s up to the girls. I always tell them ‘you have to earn the right to play good football by working hard’. We can’t be allowed to get tired and that has to be the key message.
“We are looking forward. They’re a very good team we’re playing against, but that’s true for most of the games we play, so we have to be well prepared and know when to hurt them and when to keep the ball.”
It is certainly a baptism of fire for Sorensen, but his calm and level-headed manner should leave Everton fans in no doubt that this is a man with a plan. But, as he himself said, the time has come for his team to appear on the field.
How to follow the WSL on Sky Sports…
Sky Sports – All 35 games will be available on Sky Sports’ flagship channels, including Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
Sky Sports News – Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barclays FA WSL fans can enjoy Sky Sports News (channel 409) rolling editorial coverage of the league and its history throughout the season.
Inside the WSL – Presented by award-winning broadcaster and journalist Jessica Creighton, Inside the WSL is a comprehensive collection of all things Barclays FA Women’s Super League and women’s football. The half-hour show, which airs weekly on Sky Sports Premier League, will review and preview matches, including in-depth analysis and exclusive player interviews. Viewers can expect exciting behind-the-scenes access, as well as a summary of all the action on and off the pitch.
Sky Sports Social – Alongside coverage and exposure for the league across all of Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the personalized Twitter feed @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.
New for the 2022/23 season, the Sky Sports WSL TikTok account will provide fans with 360° coverage of the league and give them exclusive access to their new favorite players. Also a first for the league, a new Snapchat show Discover The Dub aims to become the platform’s new hub for Barclays WSL content.
Sky Showcase – All Sky customers will benefit from being able to watch the opening weekend on Sky Showcase (channel 106) without a Sky Sports subscription. This channel is designed to curate some of the top shows, movies and sport from across Sky’s channels.
Sky Sports Digital – Follow all the latest from the WSL on SkySports.com and the app, including exclusive features and interviews, as well as exclusive live blog coverage and in-play clips from games live on Sky Sports. You can watch free highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel.