Jasmine Matthews is no stranger to the Reds, having played for Liverpool in the 2018-2019 season before heading back to Bristol. That linked her up with Matt Beard, who then also came back to Liverpool and he brought along... Matthews.
“Jas is a fantastic player,” Beard said to the club website recently. “She has been unbelievable for us and is having a great season.”
Beard took the initiative to switch to a back three defensive formation this season, and Matthews has been an integral part of that switch, helping the women towards a seven point gap in their hunt for promotion to the FA Women’s Super League. Humble as ever, though, Matthews herself credits their good form to atmosphere around the club.
“I think we have started the season really well and it has just carried on,” Matthews said. “Coming back after Christmas, we have really kicked on. We haven’t just scored goals, we haven’t conceded many either, which is obviously a bonus.
“I don’t think I’ve actually been part of a squad like this one when we talk about belief and togetherness. I know I said that when I was at Bristol City but being back at Liverpool now, this has just gone one step ahead of that.
“Matt has really brought everyone together and it’s just so enjoyable. We all come into training with a smile on our faces and I can’t wait to see all the girls and just get on the pitch with them. So it’s really enjoyable and that’s what you want. It’s a big part of our lives.”
Beard has said that his main goal had been to change the mentality within the squad, and considering the camaraderie the women play with, the pure joy of the game they have at the moment, it may be safe to say he’s achieved that - but not without it’s struggles.
“He’s great. When Matt came to Bristol City it was a hard time to be there but as soon as he came in he completely changed the love of the game again,” Matthews continued.
“When he called us to come back to Liverpool it was just a great feeling. He’s not only just a great manager but he’s a really nice person as well. He really looks out for you on and off the pitch, and if you ever have any problems his door is always open.
“I think he just gets the best out of every single one of us. Even the players who are not starting games, he’s still driving everybody to make sure that when you do come on off the bench you are ready, prepared and you are still happy, even if you are not playing regularly.
“I think that’s a massive part of what we are about.”
Switching to the back three has been a huge part of the Reds’ success this year, and Matthews is really enjoying her place in the formation.
“It definitely suits this team and me, and it’s worked really well,” Matthews added. “When Matt first signed me he wanted me to play holding midfield for him at first this season, but we then switched to three at the back and it worked well.
“We are all comfortable on the ball and we can start to build the play from the back, which is always nice because we feel like we are not just defenders stopping the opposition and we all actually contribute to some of the goals.
“Playing left-sided centre-back suits my game and I’m really enjoying it.”
Another big part of that switch has been the addition of Rachael Laws in goal, another former Liverpool player returning to the squad to help them regain their rightful place in the WSL, and another presence that shores up the defense.
“Lawsy is incredible!” exclaimed Matthews. “I personally think she is so underrated.
“She just goes about her business so quietly and she has made some key saves for us this season that maybe on another day we could have been 1-0 down before we went in front and went on to win the game.
“She’s not just a great goalkeeper but on and off the pitch she is a great person.
“Her communication is just second to none and she is just constantly talking and screaming at us. And she’s not afraid to kick us up the backside when we need it! That is always good.”
The true unsung heroes of the season, though? The supporters, making their way over the river to the Prenton Park and beyond for as many matches as possible.
“They have honestly been our 12th woman and they are absolutely brilliant,” Matthews continued. “It’s funny really but sometimes when I’m at home I can’t help it and I start singing the songs they have for the players!
“They are great and they have been amazing and everyone appreciates them.
“I know it really gives us a boost when we hear them singing throughout the whole game. It doesn’t matter how we are playing, they are still chanting our names and really rooting for us, which gives us a massive boost.
“We would love to get promotion this season, which is our main aim, and give something back to them.”
(You can learn the songs here at the Liverpool Women’s Supporters Club website, fyi).
All eyes now are on promotion, as the season heads into it’s final stretch. Matthews, unfortunately, is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, but will doing everything she can to help the squad towards that ultimate goal.
“It’s everyone’s ambition at the club from the background staff to us players – we all want promotion. I think that’s where Liverpool FC Women need to be and they should be,” the number 6 said.
“Hopefully we can do it because it’s certainly going the right way at the moment, and it would be amazing because I really think we can kick on and prove what Liverpool is about.
“It’s been really tough the last few years at the club and we want to get back in the WSL as quickly as possible and prove what we are all about.
“We are exactly where we want to be. Matt said we needed to be in around the top three at Christmas – which we managed to do. As long as we keep picking up points here and there, I think we’ll be fine. But we will stay focused, keep our feet on the ground and go about our business really quietly, like I think we have been.”