Liverpool Ladies began pre-season last week, welcoming 3 new recruits alongside the host of first-team players who have recently committed their future to the club. Matt Beard sat down after training to give an interview to LFCTV on his thoughts of the season ahead.
Q Today you welcomed the ladies back to training, how excited are you to pick up where you left off last season?
A We’ve had a good morning so far, I’m looking forward to getting back on the training pitch because again it’s been a long close-season and we’re looking forward to getting our teeth back into getting the players fit, reinforcing our philosophy and hopefully having a good and successful season.
Q The season doesn’t get underway until March, can you give us a brief run-down of how your preparations will take shape between now and then?
A We’ve got 5 friendlies booked between now and the season starting, we will lose the players to international duty for about 4 weeks over the next 3 months so that’s why we’ve come in a little bit early than what we would have if we didn’t have any international disruptions. It’s about our new signings, introducing them to learning the Liverpool way and introducing them to the philosophy and the togetherness that the group has got. Starting all over again, we’ve got to make sure that we get the basic fundamentals back in to the players with regards to our defensive and attacking responsibilities and getting the players fit to play football.
Q Do you feel that coming in early will give an advantage to you over your rivals?
A I think most clubs are doing the same to be honest, I think it’s only Chelsea that may be coming in a little bit later. We had an issue last year where we came in at the end of January and we lost players to international duty shortly afterwards, that’s where our injuries started from so we want to make sure our players are fit to go away with their national team and it gives us an opportunity to get the philosophy back out of how we play and what we do, gives us more time with the players just to get them right.
Q Having had a meeting with the players today before training, what was the main message?
A To reintroduce the values of the football club, to remind them of where they are, who they’re playing for and then what’s expected of them – they are professional footballers and we’re expecting them to act in the right way with regard to their healthy lifestyle and then just to re-iterate what’s expected of them from a training perspective and targets for this season.
Q Did you feel that having that meeting with the new players involved, do you reckon that will give a taster to them and get them settled in easier with regards to what playing for Liverpool Football Club is all about?
A Yes, we did a montage for the players at the end focussing on 2013 and 2014 to remind them that we are the champions of England and to remind them of what we’re looking to achieve this season. For me personally I’m excited with this squad this year. I think we’ve got power and pace in all units and it’s a squad I’m excited to work with.
Q After back-to-back titles, what are you aims now for this season – is it more of the same?
A Yeah definitely, last year we won the league title with a 50% win rate. I’ve researched the premier league and the Championship and it’s never been done, the lowest percentage I found was in 2010 which was Man United with 60%. I think we’ll have to win 75% of our games this year if we are going to retain our title, Man City have strengthened considerably, Chelsea are doing the same at the moment and [this season is] probably going to be the most competitive and toughest year. As I said I’m confident with the players that we’re recruiting and I’m confident with this group that we can be successful this year. Me and my staff learnt a lot last year with the injuries that we had but still to retain the title in the manner that we did shows a lot about the character of not just the players but the whole set up.
Q Despite the other clubs strengthening, do you still feel your side have got as every much a chance you have than say what you had going into the last game of the season?
A I’m confident within the whole group. We tasted the Champions League last year and I knew what we needed to do to strengthen for that competition as well, one of the issues especially out in Sweden was the transition of their play from defensive to attack was phenomenal – that come down to power and pace and we’ve identified players that we’ve wanted to bring to the football club and I’m delighted that we’re nearly there with bringing the players in that we want to bring in. I think we’re going to be in a good position to go on and be successful this year and I didn’t really need to add a lot of bodies. We lost Lucy Bronze, who we didn’t want to lose but that’s part and parcel of football now and the rest of the players that have left the football club have left with our blessing. As I say the players that we’ve identified and want to bring in to improve the group, I think it’s going to be the best group that I’ve had since I’ve been the Liverpool manager.
In his interview Matt mentions 5 pre-season friendlies, 3 of those so far have been announced to the public – Sunday 25th January, home v Aston Villa, 2pm / Wednesday 4th February, away v Derby County, 7:30pm / Sunday 22nd February, home v Yeovil, 2pm. Liverpool also played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Everton yesterday, with top scorer Natasha Dowie on target in the draw.
Thanks to Liverpool Ladies Tumblr for the above interview.