The Women’s World Cup saw a groundswell of interest from around the globe. 11.7million viewers tuned in to watch Phil Neville’s England side against the United States in the semi-finals. Even though England lost, the one player who won hearts from both the sides was Ellen White.
White is an English international footballer who plays as a forward. She has been a prolific goal scorer for the Lionesses throughout the World Cup. She signed a two-year deal with Manchester City last month.
After scoring 28 goals across 80 international appearances, she turned down the offer of a new contract from Birmingham City. She is a mix of goal-poacher and cold-blooded finisher who is ready to fulfil her dreams with Nick Cushing’s side.
The striker has previously played for Arsenal Women, Chelsea Women, and Leeds Carnegie. She made 35 appearances for Blues while playing under two managers, Marc Skinner and Marta Tejedor. White has struck five goals at the World Cup this summer. This is more than any other Lioness’ striker at a single tournament.
This tactical analysis will profile England’s forward White.
Her father, Jon White, ran a soccer academy called ‘Mini Dux’ in Aylesbury, where White played her early football. She played football for Aylesbury Town. Arsenal Ladies scouts then spotted her at the age of eight.
Leaving Arsenal aged 16, White was top scorer for three seasons before leaving to join Leeds Carnegie in June 2008. Within months of signing, she suffered a ligament injury that kept her out of the game for a lengthy spell. In February 2010, she scored twice making Leeds beat Everton Ladies in the final of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
In July 2010, she returned to Arsenal as the Leeds squad had broken up following a funding crisis. She enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at Arsenal before joining Notts County in 2014, where she appeared in the first-ever Women’s FA Cup final.
White joined Birmingham in January 2017 and was the Women’s Super League top-scorer in 2017/18 with 15 goals. She scored six goals for the club in 2018/19 as they finished fourth.
She also played for England at Under-17, 19, 20, and 23 levels. The striker made her senior England debut in March 2010 against Austria. She scored in the final minute as England won that match by 3-0.
White has enjoyed an array of memorable moments during her nine years as an England international. In 2011 after the World Cup, White was voted England Women’s Player of the Year during her three-year spell with Arsenal.
Known for her goal-scoring prowess, White has been recognised for her contributions to club and country on several occasions. She was the league’s top goal scorer during the 17/18 FA WSL season. She was also named Vauxhall England Women’s Player of the Year in 2018.
The forward was one of six strikers to be named in England Head Coach Phil Neville’s summer Women’s World Cup squad. She was alongside FC Barcelona’s Toni Duggan, Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, Former City player Nikita Parris, Arsenal’s Beth Mead and Jodie Taylor who currently plays for Seattle Reign.
Her tactics created the most chances for England, linking up well with her attacking team-mates. She took all her goals well in a frenzied period of play.
With England 1-0 up against Scotland in Nice, White put the ball in the net in the 23rd minute. She wheeled away in celebration, putting her hands over her eyes in a ‘spectacles’ gesture made famous by Anthony Modeste.
Although that particular effort was ruled out for offside by VAR, she was able to give the celebration another airing just before half-time with a cool finish from inside the box to put her side 2-0 up in a match they eventually won by 2-1.
From the spectacular finish against Japan in 2011 to the dramatic loss against the USA in 2019, White has a back catalogue of famous strikes to rival the very best. And with 80 caps to her name, White is next in line to become the latest Lionesses centurion.
Five games played. Six goals scored. Every time White took the field for England, she found the back of the net. This was a phenomenal run for the Manchester City striker, a supreme tournament where she proved that she has a supernatural goalscoring instinct. The scout report shows her different playing tactics.
The 30-years-old was at third for the Golden Boot alongside American duo Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in the standings. The top three goal scorers were separated by the number of assists they created in the fewest minutes, lifting Rapione top and Morgan second.
Neville had urged his players to take calculated risks and as White scored their second goal against Japan, it seemed like a case of fortune favouring the brave. It began with Fran Kirby evading opponent’s attention by getting a toe to a loose ball which fell kindly for the well-positioned White.
The way she possesses the ball and moves around to create chances accounts for one of the best tactics played in women’s football. Her nimble touch allows her to get the ball out of her feet to interchange quick passes with other players. Neville wants his team to play quick, exciting football through transitions from back to front. White is a testament to his style of play.
She has netted on average every 67 minutes against the likes of Norway, Cameroon, and Japan. According to the statistical analysis, the aerial duels accounts for 36.5% with 48.9% of shots on target. She even bags 76% of the accurate passes with an average interception of 1.8.
The striker attacks the channels or the half-spaces in between the opposition centre-back and full-back. She then uses her excellent dribbling to beat her defender or to at least draw the centre-back out. This then creates space for other teammates so that they can get a shot off themselves.
Beth Mead bent a gorgeous cross in from the left-wing and White came onto it, drifting away from defenders, and guiding the ball into the back of the net. But moments later there was a disallowed goal. Jill Scott made an amazing flick to move the ball through, but White’s supernatural movement made the pass possible. When she had the ball there was never any doubt that she would finish, and she buried the chance before it was ruled out.
Another common tactic is the use of diagonal balls coupled with her diagonal runs from the inside channels to wider positions. These serve to isolate her against the opposition right-back.
In the image below, Keira Walsh plays a diagonal cross-field ball, allowing Mead to receive in space. Striker White further supports the move by occupying the opponent, dragging her infield with a decoy movement. Mead takes the ball down with a clean first touch, before finding White in the box for the goal.
She is adept at creating space for herself. A common tactic of England is to play cut-backs, the success of which depends on the movement of the striker to occupy the space created. She usually gets into great scoring positions.
Her intelligent movement is borne by her excellent positioning between the lines. Not only does she create space for her teammates but the ability to give herself time is impressive.
A long free-kick to the far post turned into a battle for the loose ball, which bounced around for a while before landing in front of White, who tried to put it back over her shoulder and over the line, just a yard or two behind her. But Naeher calmly reached up and snagged the ball out of the air as White continued kicking at it.
With an accuracy of 35% in long passes and 21.4% in crosses, the striker has always shown her tactics to give out clear results.
Half of White’s game is spent on her backside. Every two or three minutes there will be another slide tackle to stop a clearance. This isn’t for show, and it’s not a hopeless endeavour. Sure, attempting to stop a clearance isn’t the goal that wins you the game, but it sets such a strong and clear tone to the rest of the team and to the fans.
This tactical analysis has given enough evidence to support this Lioness’ striking ability. White had a successful end to the season with Birmingham City to land a move to Man City, earning her place in Neville’s World Cup squad and feels that the team will continue to improve. She has been a revelation at this summer’s Women’s World Cup. An out and out striker who leads by example and has an eye for goal.
The 30-years-old, scorer of 21 goals from 26 appearances in the WSL, is so much more than just hard work. There is so much to her game. It’s also too easy to look at the goals that she scores and peg her as just a ‘finisher’. She is somebody who leads the line well and gets opportunities of scoring more goals and dominates the games offensively.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the July issue for just ₤4.99 here, or even better sign up for a ₤50 annual membership (12 monthly issues plus the annual review) right here.