One of the biggest complaints about the club’s handling of the Women’s team has been their exclusion from the brand new training center set up for the Men’s and Academy players. Millions of pounds were spent on it while the Women’s team languish across the river, training on Tranmere Rovers’ campus and sharing resources with them, as opposed to, well, Liverpool. Even with the sale of Melwood, another opportunity was missed to raise the bar of the resources that are available to the Women’s team.
That all looks to be changing in the future, according to Women’s team manager Matt Beard, in an interview with This Is Anfield.
“We’re making headway with that now,” Beard started.
“Not next season, the season after, we should have our own training ground for us and the academy.”
Since the addition of Susan Black as the executive director for the women’s team and Russ Fraser as the managing director, bigger strides have been made to heal what was obviously broken at the club from the Women’s side. Unfortunately, Beard points out a very good reason (and of course an oversight on the club’s part) why the Women’s team can’t just up and move into the AXA Training Facility anyway.
“If you look at Kirkby, if we went there you can probably only house the first team. From our perspective, we have the under-21s, the youth system. The youth system are training at three different venues at the moment,” Beard explained.
“We want to get a base not just for the first team but for the women’s setup, I think that’s important.
“Kirkby wouldn’t be able to house under-18s, under-21s, first team. My preference would be where we can house them together.
“We want to develop our own players, like what’s happened on the men’s side. We want to replicate that. It’s going to take a little bit of time but the start of that process is getting our own training facility.”
It’s a strategy that has clearly worked for Liverpool in the past, and in fact was a leading project for Jürgen Klopp and what inspired the Kirkby training facility in the first place - a home for not only the first teams, but for the academies as well to all train together. Making that a reality for the Women’s team now is the next step for Beard, Black, and Fraser.
“Susan’s had a massive influence,” continued Beard.
“The structural changes that happened in the summer, [like] bringing in Russ Fraser [the women’s first managing director]; he pushes boundaries.”
The upper management teams had been working to secure not only new training facilities, but a new stadium for home games as the contract with Tranmere Rovers to play at Prenton Park will expire shortly. And now, with the promotion to the FA WSL already sealed, it’s become a priority - especially since the Women are ahead of schedule.
“The ambition was always to go up,” Beard adds.
“[But] my remit wasn’t to go up this year, we had a two-year plan to do it; to go up in year one was great. It’s been a joy to be honest with you.”
It won’t be without it’s challenges, though, as the match against Arsenal earlier in the season showed. We may have gotten promoted, but it’s going to take just as much work to stay in the league where we belong.
“I think as a set up we’re ready to make the step up,” said Beard.
“I have that experience of that division and we have a lot of players who have played in that division so I think we’re better equipped maybe than some of the teams that have gone up in the past.”
For now, it’s time to look ahead to Sheffield United on the weekend, a match whose kick off time was moved to accommodate fans trying to go to both the trophy lift and the Men’s derby across the river. An exciting Sunday ahead and time to enjoy the period of Liverpool we’re in now - winning ways all around.