The Liverpool FC Women were quite active this January, bringing in five players, while parting ways with two others. Most of the activity took place early in the window, with the signing of former Liverpool defender Gemma Bonner, and also bringing in a lot of depth and youth in midfield with Fuka Nagawa, Sofie Lundgaard, and Miri Taylor. Versatile midfielder/defender Charlotte Wardlaw was recalled from Liverpool to her parent club, Chelsea, before being loaned out again. The club wasn’t done, however, as Matt Beard and the LFC brass did make two very late moves.
With Leanne Kiernan suffering a setback with her recovery, and Shanice van de Sanden going down with a knee injury expected to keep her out for a couple of months, the club needed depth behind Katie Stengel up top. Liverpool brought in Natasha Dowie, another former player with a wealthy of experience, to help provide depth in the forward position. Dowie joined the Reds on loan from Blackburn Rovers, where the 34 year old had scored once this season in the WSL across ten matches.
This is Dowie’s second stint with Liverpool, having previously played for the club under Matt Beard, helping win two top flight titles. Beard was happy to have someone of Dowie’s caliber and familiarity with the club join on such short notice.
“I think the biggest thing for us is that Tats is a goalscorer,” said Beard.
“If you look at her record, it’s consistently a goal every other game throughout her career. When the opportunity arose to bring her in – the fact she’s a Liverpool fan as well – we felt it was a good move for us and a good move for her.”
For Dowie, the deal came together quickly. She is excited to be back in a place she loves, even if it is only temporarily.
“It’s been a surreal last couple of days and it’s all happened quite quickly, to be honest,” said Dowie.
“But I’m over the moon to be back. This is my home and it’s where I’ve had such great memories – the best memories of my football career, winning the league here. I’m just really excited for the next four months. I’m on loan from Reading but I just really want to help Liverpool get up the table as much as I can and be involved.”
While Liverpool desperately needed depth at forward, they had a little too much depth in midfield after signing three new players this January. The additional depth allowed Jasmine Matthews to return to central defense, but it also meant even less potential playing time for fan-favorite Rachel Furness. The Northern Irishwoman had taken a more reserve role in midfield this season, only logging 360 league minutes.
Several other teams reached out to Liverpool during the winter window to inquire about Furness. Matt Beard felt it best to discuss the options with Furness, and the club and the player ultimately thought it best to part ways so Furness could sign with another club.
“Furney has been a great servant to the club,” said Beard of Furness.
“During my time here, she’s been fantastic. We sat down about 10 days ago and we spoke about her role, which has changed a bit this year. There were some clubs who were interested in signing her and we made Rachel aware of that. I think there were three clubs who were interested and, between Rachel and her agent, they decided she wanted to move on. There was a role here for here, but the opportunity arose for her to get regular football. We wish her nothing but the best. It’s always tough when you lose senior players. She’s a fantastic person and we’re going to miss her.”
Furness was a key figure in helping Liverpool make a return to the WSL. The fiery midfielder endeared herself to all with her hustle and grit, as well as her penchant to throw her body around to win headers. In her time with the Reds, the 34 year old scored 14 times in 37 league matches.
Furness immediately signed with Bristol City in the FA Women’s Championship to help them challenge London City in a bid for promotion. It’s a nice gesture that the club allowed Furness to leave so she could find more playing time rather than keep her on the bench. Before she left, Furness shared a heart-felt message to the Liverpool fans, players, and staff.