Spare a thought for overseas signings in these Covid-19 riddled times - Sue Smith

Moving to a new football club is difficult; moving to a different country must make it even harder.

Chelsea's Kai Havertz (left) has had it tough since his arrival at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

Throw in a global pandemic and it must get very tough indeed, as players and even managers will be finding in this transfer window.

When I left Tranmere Rovers for Leeds United as a 22-year-old it was like starting a new school. Tranmere had been all I had known in my football career and I did not want to leave but I knew I had to move to a club challenging at the top of women’s football.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I knew a couple of Leeds players but I could not say I was overly friendly with any of them. It was new surroundings, a new manager and you wonder if you will play well.

Sheffield United's Lys Mousset: Forced to miss birth.

Leeds was only an hour down the road for me, so I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Tomas Soucek and his family when he joined West Ham United. The Czech dedicated his two goals to his wife in midweek and talked about the sacrifices she has made away from the rest of her family.

Some players will even have been separated from their partners and children. Where I had the comfort blanket of knowing my family were still close by, they will be relying on video calls. It is just not the same.

Sheffield United’s Lys Mousset had been in South Yorkshire nine months or so before his partner gave birth to their child in France but being locked down and unable to visit must have been tough.

Kai Havertz has had a tough time settling in at Chelsea but is anyone surprised?

SYMPATHY: Axed Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. Picture: Michael Regan/PA

Aged 21 he has moved to a new country where they speak a different language and play different football.

He has played five different positions and suffered injuries and Covid-19.

Timo Werner has swapped a counter-attacking RB Leipzig team for a Chelsea one that looks to play possession football.

Leeds were brilliant in helping me settle in and a couple of us signed together so after our first game we went for a team meal and got to know everyone.

We would do various team-building exercises the team manager was not at and did not organise. When I signed for Doncaster Rovers Belles it was mainly footgolf.

Beyond that, you might just go for a coffee or lunch with team-mates, have a game of golf or hang around one of their flats watching a film. Technically, I shared a flat with two or three team-mates but in reality you end up pretty much living with plenty more and forming such a strong bond, I am still in touch with them.

It strengthens you as a team to know your friends have got your back.

Every team, male or female, always has a character who plays practical jokes and when you have the first one played on you, you start to feel more a part of the dressing room.

At the moment, Covid protocols mean players have to pretty much arrive, train, then jump in their cars home. Their own cars.

At Leeds, I car-pooled with Jess Clarke and Sophie Bradley, and Casey Stoney at Lincoln City. Jess would be the car DJ and we would all dance to the music.

Not being able to do these little things makes it a difficult time for clubs to make big changes.

That is why I felt for Frank Lampard when he was sacked as Chelsea manager, although not shocked as that is their way.

Last season it looked like he had been brought in to oversee a project. Now, when patience was more important than ever as he tried to settle in new signings including Havertz and Werner, he is gone, replaced by Thomas Tuchel, who must himself adjust quickly to a new country.

Much better to follow the example of teams like Leeds, who have just added a few key players to the group that came up from the Championship. I covered their game at Newcastle United and Rodrigo and Raphinha were outstanding – some of the Spaniard’s passing was brilliant – but for the rest it has been about Marcelo Bielsa making them better.

Leeds are ambitious, with chairman Andrea Radrizzani talking this week about wanting big European nights back at a redeveloped Elland Road, but realistic enough to know you cannot try to do it too quickly.

I was forced to leave Leeds when the club went into meltdown because they tried to do too much, too soon.

Patience is even more vital now.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.