When Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool FC, the LFC Women’s team was the cream of the crop. The team won the Women’s Super League title in back to back seasons in 2013 and 2014 under the direction of Matt Beard. Since that time, the Women’s side has struggled with a lack of investment when other sides like Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United have poured funds into their teams, and have been rewarded with results.
After a season spent in the FA Women’s Championship, Liverpool have brought Beard back into the fold. This is hopefully a signal of intent from FSG that they will be putting and emphasis on making the Women’s side relevant again.
For his part, the newly (re)appointed manager feels the club is looking to go in the right direction. He was asked about the current squad, his views on the challenge ahead, and his ambitions in a recent interview with Liverpoolfc.com. He was first asked about the difficulty of building a squad, including having to let players go who have sometimes served the club for.
“Yeah, those conversations are never easy. Yes, it is part and parcel of the game but this group got relegated from the WSL and they’ve not gone back up in the Championship,” said Beard of the recent news of players who were released by the club. “It proved last year what a tough division it is and it’s going to be even tougher this year with the investment of Charlton and Coventry and teams like Lewes, so it’s going to be a tougher division this year. The ambition is to get promoted, we’re working incredibly hard on bringing players in and I’m really excited with the conversations we’re having and the options we’ve got available. Hopefully we can start to get the new players in and over the line in the coming weeks.”
As Beard rightly pointed out, teams in the Championship are not standing pat, but are also strengthening squads to challenge for the one promotion spot. Liverpool showed that they have players with the talent to compete with anyone in their current division, but maybe not the depth required to navigate a title winning season.
“I’ve watched a lot of games and a lot of individual clips of the current group,” said Beard. “I know the areas we’ve identified – not just me but the whole technical team – the areas we want to improve on. We want to create more competition for places. We’ve done a lot of homework on our own group and, for me, it’s also learning about this league and the teams we’re playing against. So there’s a lot going on and it’s a challenge I can’t wait to get my teeth into.”
The good news is it seems that Beard and club management have identified areas for growth, including building quality depth. Thankfully, he will have Amber Whiteley as part of his staff. Whiteley did a stellar job of righting the ship in the second half of the season as she took charge on an interim basis. With her help, Beard will hopefully be able to get up to speed quickly so he can lead his side into the new season. There will be one goal in mind — promotion.
“I’m confident, I think we’ve got a really good core group here,” said Beard of his feelings about his new side’s ability to win it all. “The great thing for me is they’ve experienced the Championship and they know what’s expected. If you look at a club like Liverpool Football Club, it’s going to be like a cup final every week for us. It’s understanding that part of the journey we’re going to go on next year. We will do our utmost to get promoted. It’s not going to be a given, it’s not going to be guaranteed, we have to earn that right. My job is to make sure the players are focused, they’re fit, they’re prepared and, as I said before, me and the staff will work incredibly hard to achieve our aim this season.”