United States coach Jill Ellis declined a war of words with former keeper Hope Solo as she prepares her side for their Fifa Women’s World Cup opener against Thailand tonight.
Ellis, who lived in Cowplain for 10 years before moving to America as a teenager in 1981, had her leadership credentials questioned by her former keeper in the build-up to this year’s tournament in France.
In a podcast broadcast on Saturday, Solo claimed Ellis, who guided the USA to the 2015 World Cup, ‘cracks under pressure’.
The comments were put to the former Padnell Junior School pupil in the press conference ahead of tonight’s Group F game at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.
However, Ellis refused to tait the bait.
In response, she said: ‘Comments are comments.
‘For me, personally, I feel over the past five years I’ve made a lot of important decisions and I have processes to make those decisions, and I own those processes.
‘At this point, everything and every focus is about this group of players that are here and now.
‘Pundits, out there, that’s part of it. And part of the message is always to make sure that the focus is on the internal part of the game. And that’s where we are.’
Solo won the Golden Glove at the past two World Cups and is working for the BBC at this year’s tournament.
Her involvement with the side ended after the Americans were ousted by Sweden at the quarter-finals stage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Speaking about Ellis on the podcast, Solo said: ‘She’s not the leader I wish her to be.
‘She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But oftentimes it doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the US team is superb.’
Ellis, whose family home was on Longwood Avenue in Cowplain, has been the USA’s head coach since 2014.
They go into this year’s World Cup as favourites and the number-one ranked team.