Since starting LFC Women Blog (formerly LFCladiesfans) in March 2013, I have been proud to follow and support Liverpool F.C. Women.
Being the first women’s football blog dedicated to one team and growing the following to over 10,000 strong across social platforms has been one of my proudest achievements and one that has led to many friendships being created and opportunities that I could never have dreamt of.
I was going to make this into a sort of, LFC Women Blog ‘best of’ with my highlights from the last six and a half years but there’s far too many so here’s a whistle stop tour…
Gemma Bonner’s winning goal as the Reds beat Bristol Academy 4-3, Natasha Harding FINALLY signing for the Reds after years of teasing, following the Reds internationally: Mandy van den Berg, Amanda Da Costa, Shanice van de Sanden, Yana Daniels, Caroline Weir, Fara Williams, Alex Greenwood etc. etc., that 4-0 win at the Emirates, the penalty shootout win over Reading at the weekend with Sophie Bradley-Auckland smashing home the winning spot kick, two Women’s Super League titles, multiple youth titles, Italy, Sweden, Boston, Chicago, following every single player’s career that has come through and left the Reds, getting to know one of the most dedicated footballers in Yasmine Swarbrick, Gemma Davison’s equaliser at Arsenal, Natasha Dowie, Dowie, Natasha Dowie, Lucy Staniforth’s return from injury, everything Kate Longhurst, watching Niamh Charles and Ashley Hodson transition from the youth teams to the first team, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s volley, Satara Murray’s runs on the right, Leighanne Robe’s tackling, Bethany England’s goals last season… I could sit here all day!
Please follow the club’s official Twitter page @LiverpoolFCW for continued updates on Vicky Jepson’s mighty Reds, and if you want to stay updated with me I’m @Hev__91.
Thank you for following over the years! Up the Reds!
Today Liverpool F.C. Women announced that Vicky Jepson will become first team manager with immediate effect, assisted by Chris Kirkland.
A highly regarded and respected coach, Vicky has been involved with the Reds for over nine years.
Starting in 2009 coaching the under-11s at the club’s centre of excellence for six years, amongst the staff at the club as Matt Beard came in and won back-to-back titles (Vicky was the team analyst for three seasons) and with the Development Squad for five seasons; first as assistant and then as manager.
Of that first under-11 side back in 2009, three players currently play in the Academy side (formerly known as the Dev. Squad). Annabel Blanchard who made her first team debut towards the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Bo Kearns who featured heavily during pre-season and Courtney Willis.
Vicky did all this alongside a full-time role at the LFC Foundation, spending her days with the foundation and her evenings coaching the Reds – even finding time as a coach with England’s under-17s, coaching on the FA North West regional development camps and being an FA level one tutor.
Adding even further to the list Vicky has coached the LFC legends ahead of charity matches, travelled with the men’s first team on pre-season tours to assist with foundation coaching camps and in December 2015 was named FA Female Development Coach of the Year. An accolade that seen her invited to Melwood to spend time with Jurgen Klopp and Steven Gerrard.
And that’s just on paper.
Much credit must be given to both Vicky and Chris in the way that they have rallied the squad following a hard start to the season. Unprompted in interviews the players constantly praise the coaching staff at the club for the atmosphere created and the bond between players and staff has arguably never been stronger.
You only have to look at the reaction of current players (some of which are included at the bottom of this article), former players, supporters and coaches from across the women’s game to know how highly thought of Vicky is.
The Reds are in good hands going forward.
Kirsty Linnett: When good people get what they deserve. congratulations !!!! Done a fantastic job already!!
Ashley Hodson: Couldn’t be happier with @Vick_Jepson being appointed our new manager, much deserved and can’t wait for times ahead!
Leighanne Robe: Huge congratulations to @Vick_Jepson so very deserved and already shown what an amazing manager you are congrats to @ChrisKirkland43 also for becoming the assistant manager, we are lucky to have you both!! Great decision by the club
One of my favourite things since starting LFC Women Blog back in 2013 has been following and supporting Reds internationally; from World Cups and Euros to friendlies and tournament qualifiers.
When Liverpool signed Belgian international Yana Daniels last month, the winger spoke in her first interview of how Belgium had a huge couple of qualifiers coming up as they hoped to qualify for a play off place for the World Cup in France next summer. After seeing one of these games was against Italy, a team with several players I enjoy watching, I was sold.
After harassing several friends to come with me, just fellow Liverpool supporter Deb decided to come along and join me for the trip and after booking to stay a couple of nights in Brussels first – with plans for beer tasting and sightseeing – we booked to stay in Leuven on the night of the match.
Leuven is a small city to the east of Brussels, a 20-minute train journey away, and in travelling to Leuven you cross the border into the Flemish region of Belgium. Having grown up with my cycling-mad Dad travelling to Flanders once a year (he loves the country and that specific region for the people – and the beers!) I was looking forward to spending even just a short time there.
Upon arrival in the town centre there were several impressively looming gothic-looking buildings, all bearing the yellow and black flag of the Flemish region, and the detail in the design of them astounding – you could stand there for hours and still see new parts.
Having been advised by a friend who had travelled there for the England game a couple of years back that there was a street with ‘around 30 bars either side’, we quickly set out for some lunch and a couple of Belgian beers ahead of the 5:30pm kick-off.
In one of the many, many bars on this street was a bartender who spotted my Liverpool jacket and we had a great conversation about the Reds. He was that big a supporter that when the men’s team reached the Champions League final in May he flew across to Liverpool to watch the game in the city!
The street in itself was wholly impressive – think an elongated Concert Square without all the things that make Concert Square, Concert Square. Small pubs and bars lined either side of the wide street with seating available outside at each and stretching into the middle. Catching up with Yana after the match, she told us that having gone to University in Leuven this was a place she was well acquainted with!
Onto the match then and having originally planned on getting a bus to the game, we had quickly realised following a few hours of exploring that Leuven wasn’t that big and from where we were sat it would take just a 15 minute walk.
The closer you got to the stadium, the more Belgium shirts began to appear. With over an hour to go until kick off a healthy sized crowd had begun to build and there were groups of supporters in the pubs dotted on the walk to the ground.
After picking up our tickets and heading to our seats – brilliantly placed on the half way line – there was a little bit of disappointment as the team sheet showed Yana as starting from the bench. The Reds number 11 had played 45 minutes last week in the victory over Romania but here was named amongst the substitutes.
In the Italian side there was no Martina Rosucci – a favourite of mine – as Juventus announced yesterday morning that the midfielder has suffered yet another ACL injury and will be undergoing further surgery. There was however several of the Brescia side that Liverpool faced three years ago in the Champions League including Barbara Bonansea, Cristina Girelli and Elena Linari.
Italy had a small pocket of travelling support behind one of the goals – probably around two dozen who had adorned their stand with Italian flags and colours. Across the rest of the stadium was an array of red, yellow and black.
With the Italians already qualified Belgium needed to win for the chance to play in the play offs – a two rounded competition between four teams of whom only one will go to France next summer.
There was a rifling start to the game as Belgium tested Italy’s back three, finding a weakness on the right side of the defence and probing from there.
Six minutes in and Belgium took the lead through PSG’s impressive 19-year-old forward Davinia Vanmechelen who escaped her marker to smash the ball home at the edge of the 6-yard box.
Vanmechelen almost doubled her tally a couple of minutes later but it would be the Italians who found the back of the net first.
Davina Philtjens, who plays her club football in Italy, was adjudged to have fouled in the area and Girelli dutifully stood up to convert from the penalty spot. Italy hadn’t took their foot off the pedal despite already having their place in France confirmed.
The Italian equaliser provided an opportunity for Girelli and her team mates to pay tribute to the injured Rosucci – they raced to the bench and celebrated the goal by holding up her number eight shirt. Rosucci made a comeback for last summer’s European Championships so hopefully all goes well with her surgery and recovery and she’ll be back for the World Cup next year.
Ten minutes before half time came the deciding goal in the fixture as Vanmechelen put Belgium back ahead as Italy failed to clear their lines.
Towards the end of the second half, and much to our delight, Yana replaced Janice Cayman to help Belgium see out the victory and secure their place in the play offs. Which first of all will see a two-legged battle with Switzerland with the winner of that tie playing the winner of Netherlands versus Denmark for Europe’s final World Cup spot.
Fingers crossed Yana and Belgium will be joining Christie Murray’s Scotland who brilliantly secured qualification for their first ever World Cup finals with victory over Albania.
Thanks to Deb for putting up with me during the trip and to Yana for the tickets for the game!
New posts coming in the next few days taking a look back at the weekend’s trip to Arsenal (mainly about putting it into perspective!) and a new X-Reds blog as I went to support Gemma Bonner with her new club. I also have a piece on Reds number 14 Kirsty Linnett ready to share so keep your eyes peele for that one!
Neil Redfearn’s new-look Liverpool F.C. Women side took on Casey Stoney’s all-new Manchester United Women last Sunday in the curtain raiser for the 2018/ 19 campaign.
As you would expect from two sides put together only seven weeks earlier there was an uneasy start to the tie as each team grappled for possession and then brief spells of dominance from both.
United probably edged the first half and the Reds the second. United’s goal coming in the 83rd minutes arguably against the run of play although very well worked and one that we had grown accustomed to over the last couple of years – Alex Greenwood nipping inside and drilling a low cross along the six-yard box, allowing Lizzie Arnot to convert.
Let’s look at the Reds though.
Anke Preuss in goal; Sophie Bradley-Auckland, the captain, playing right defender in the back three, Niamh Fahey in the middle and Jasmine Matthews on the left; Satara Murray and Leighanne Robe as right-wing-back and left; Christie Murray, Razza Roberts and Laura Coombs across the midfield; Jess Clarke and Kirsty Linnett up front.
On paper that’s a strong 11 with options from the bench (Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Yana Daniels amongst the seven substitutes) and with Niamh Charles and Rinsola Babajide away with England.
To take a closer look at the attack first, throughout the game Liverpool’s threat predominantly came from Satty and Leighanne. The wing backs both providing opportunities for their team mates as well as each other – the Reds first chance just wide of the post from Leighanne after Satty picked out the brilliant run of the ex-Millwall skipper.
Leighanne in particular was one of several players to shine, strongly beating her opposite number on the flank and fighting for every ball. In the 30th minute excellently shaking off her marker to fire in a cross that was cleared out for a corner.
From the corner Niamh had the ball in the back of the net following a scramble in the 18-yard box, but the goal didn’t stand as the referee had blown for a foul in the build up.
Christie was another stand out and favoured amongst supporters afterwards for LFC Women Blog’s Player of the Match. The Scot didn’t stop running and was a constant thorn for the United difference, despite being one of the smallest players on the pitch she seems to win every header and is a great dribbler on the ball.
Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed in the stands and fans quickly began singing her name to the tune of The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’ – other songs that could be heard ringing around the stands were for Leighanne (‘Boom boom boom, let me hear you say Leighanne, Robe’) and Yana Daniels (‘Oh Yana Daniels runs down the wing for me), who came from the bench in the second half.
Yana sprung the game back into life after her introduction, each team looking to lag a little and needing inspiration from somewhere. Cue the Belgium winger skilfully skating past United players, drawing several fouls to earn the Reds free kicks and being a handful for United – who didn’t seem to be able to control her.
If the game had been 10, 15 minutes longer, Yana could have been the difference to the Reds picking up at least a point.
Back in defence Anke put in a sublime performance between the posts and will be a key player for Liverpool heading into the FA Women’s Super League season. Demonstrating her ability and agility to save with her hands and her feet, denying Jess Sigsworth on multiple occasions and producing a point-blank save to stop Leah Galton.
Jasmine also had an excellent competitive Reds debut, strong in the tackle and able to ping the ball up the pitch, providing timely interceptions time after time.
After United had taken the lead so late in the game, it would have been easy for the players to let their heads drop but they chased an equaliser until the end of the 90 minutes plus stoppage time. Unbelievably close to finding it as well, Yana winning a free kick just outside the area and Christie striking the ball off the inside of the post and across – yet agonisingly not over – the goal line.
With no game this bank holiday weekend and keen to keep the players fresh before nine headed out on international duty, the Reds then faced Blackburn in a Friday night friendly.
All credit for the Blackburn victory must be given to the National League side who have so cruelly been denied promotion on numerous occasions and proved on the night what an exciting, attacking outfit they are.
The wet pitch suited the young side with their pacy attackers and they took full advantage as they cruised to a 4-1 win.
Liverpool, for several reasons, changed formation for this game with a flat back four. Leighanne moving across to right back and Jasmine playing on the left – Jasmine driving forward from left back to aid the attack.
Yana also started and looked bright along with Courtney and Jess up front, the trio threatening but ultimately unable to provide a breakthrough for the Reds.
It would be hasty to say this friendly was a waste of time, it provides the team with plenty to work on and plenty will have been learnt in the defeat. The tie also provided opportunities for several younger members of both the first team squad and the wider development squad to be involved.
Amy Rodgers, LFC Women Blog’s Player of the Match on the night, once again showed capabilities beyond her years in midfield and constantly astounds with her maturity on the pitch. Amy capped her performance with a well-taken strike to reduce the deficit in the latter stages of the second half.
Cassia Pike played the second 45 minutes while another youngster, yet to make her first team debut, Lauren Thomas – a Welsh youth international – made her first appearance amongst the substitutes, and although not getting onto the pitch will have learnt a lot from her first experience with the first team squad.
It might have been a tough week but there’s great times coming from this squad… at the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky.
Coming soon on LFC Women Blog… X-REDS: Manchester City vs Leicester City and International Watch: Belgium vs Italy
SUNDAY 19 AUGUST. It all starts again. That familiar feeling of waking up on the first morning of a highly anticipated football season however this time almost everything has changed.
Liverpool F.C. versus Manchester United.
New season. New manager. New players. New opposition.
While there’s been a lot of noise about the new United side, Liverpool by comparison have flown almost under the radar. Despite 11 first team players departing for pastures new, the Reds have recruited 12 new stars and promoted from within for both playing and coaching staff.
This article will bring you the latest on our new recruits including interviews with Reds boss Neil Redfearn and defender Niamh Fahey, round up what has been an excellent pre-season and make sure you know everything there is to know heading into Liverpool’s 2018/19 season.
This feels fresh, this feels new, this is Liverpool.
To say Liverpool have recruited well this summer would be an understatement, each player brought in brings something of value to the squad as a whole and are all highly regarded by both supporters and staff of their former clubs .
Leighanne Robe* was first through the door as Liverpool’s rebuild began. The ex-Millwall captain arriving with a reputation as one of the second tiers most consistent defenders and has settled well on Merseyside.
A tough-tackling, no-nonsense defender who supporters will quickly grow to love for her personality on and off the pitch, Leighanne has been playing and excelling at left-wing-back during pre-season.
Next to arrive was Bristol City duo Jasmine Matthews and Yana Daniels, the former another defender with an excellent reputation – this time in the top tier – and the latter a Belgium winger who overcame a career threatening injury just 18 months ago.
Jasmine has been a constant throughout the Reds pre-season playing on the left on a three-player defence, proving hard to beat and with an eye for a sublime inch-perfect pass over the top.
So far Yana has mainly featured from the bench, proving a bright spark when introduced and chasing every ball – in the game against Durham pressing the defence to give up the ball which allowed Liverpool to go on and score.
Anke will be the Reds new number one, an athletic goalkeeper with 18 months experience in the WSL at Sunderland and with two Champions League medals under her belt.
At the tail end of the transfer window Anke was joined by fellow ‘keeper Fran Kitching and both have the ability to play out from the back, with Fran’s distribution applauded while on loan at Watford last season.
Leandra was named club captain and will play an important role for the club both on and off the pitch – see interview later on in this preview with Neil on the importance of Leandra to the squad.
Like Leandra, Razza also joins Neil after winning the WSL2 title last season with the Reds boss at Doncaster Belles. The Welsh international a terrific character with bags of energy and introduced herself to supporters with a ferocious strike crashing back off the crossbar in the pre-season game against Everton.
The final player to follow Neil directly from the Belles is team captain Sophie. A vastly experienced player who leads from example at the back and is a superb role model to the younger players coming through at the club.
Christie moves to Liverpool indirectly from Doncaster, having left the South Yorkshire side before Christmas and after netting eight goals in 10 appearances. In between leaving Doncaster and signing for the Reds, Christie spent time back in Scotland at Glasgow City and is a mainstay in the Scotland national team – recently named in the squad for September’s World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Albania.
Liverpool supporter Niamh returns to England following a year in the French league with Bordeaux and has been playing as the central defender in a back three – read more on Niamh later in this piece as LFC Women Blog spoke to the Ireland international along with The Anfield Wrap.
Swapping blue for red and bolstering the Reds attacking options up front is Courtney. Everton’s top scorer last season and Doncaster’s before that, Courtney fired in her first Liverpool goal in a pre-season win at Sheffield and her will-to-win attitude and determination is frighteningly impressive.
Last to the party was former Birmingham and Reading striker Kirsty Linnett**, adding further competition up front after impressing during a trial period at the club. A player that the Reds have been interested in for a long time and as the final piece in the jigsaw, a player that completes this new look squad.
*Click each players name to read more on our new signings ** Coming Saturday pm
The twelve new signings have integrated brilliantly with those already at the club; Satty Murray entering into her fourth season with the Reds as a firm fan-favourite and throughout pre-season deployed in a more attacking role at right-wing-back.
Satty said of Liverpool’s pre-season training camp in the Netherlands: “I’ve been here for a while and this is probably one of the best training camps I’ve been a part of in the last four years so there’s really good times ahead for sure.”
Laura Coombs also returns for her third full season at Liverpool, taking on more of a free role in the midfield during the build up to the new campaign and scoring twice. It would probably be fair to say all the players that have remained with the Reds from last season are popular with supporters but Laura again is someone held in high regard by both this blog and the fans in the stands.
The two ‘senior’ stars are joined by a host of young talent; Niamh Charles limited to a handful of appearances last season due to injury, an exciting talent raring to go again and currently away with England U20s at the World Cup; Rinsola Babajide also away with England after making a strong start to the Reds pre-season preparations; Amy Rodgers a classy young midfielder whose performances on the pitch when called up to the first team belie her age; Missy Bo Kearns, former captain of the club’s U16s, another prospect to watch out for and a popular figure amongst the squad; and Paige Cole, the Development star comfortable playing at full-back or on the wing and looking perfectly suited to the Reds new formation.
Liverpool have a talented team at Development Squad level (with players like winger Cassia Pike making her first team debut last season) and this blog will bring you the latest from their campaign as well.
Ashley Hodson will miss the majority of the upcoming season due to a knee injury and I know all supporters wish Ashley a healthy recovery and cannot wait to see her back on the pitch.
Ellie Fletcher will spend the 2018/19 season on loan at Sheffield United.
Neil Redfearn’s new look Liverpool F.C. Women’s side brought their pre-season preparations to a close in eye-catching fashion with big wins recorded over both Leicester City and Durham.
Liverpool put away seven goals (conceding none) over the course of the two games – with six different goal scorers from across the park – and in each game displayed different qualities about their team spirit while showcasing their will to win.
For the mid-week trip to Leicester the Reds controlled the tempo of the game, passed the ball well, exploited the space out wide and eased to a comfortable four-nil victory.
A few days later Liverpool travelled up the M6 to Penrith to take on a notoriously tough-to-break-down Durham side and, at first, this tie seemed to be headed the way of the dismal 0-0 draw the Reds played out in last year’s Conti Cup.
That was until a little bit of magic from Christie unlocked the Wildcats defence, the Scot exchanging passes with Satty out wide to skip past several blue shirts and Durham – unable to stop her – forced to bring her down in the box.
Christie stepped up to convert from the penalty spot and then teed up the next two goals in the three-nil win. First providing the corner that allowed Jess to nod the ball past the ‘keeper and later playing a pass for Laura to bury it in the bottom corner.
Laura scoring her second goal inside a week after also netting in the win over City, the other goal scorers in the midlands being Jasmine, Razza and Leandra.
Overall the Reds record in pre-season, particularly considering the player turnover, reads impressively.
It began with a behind-closed-doors friendly away at Sunday’s opponents Manchester United, culminating in a 0-0 draw after 60 minutes. The game called off after a serious-looking injury to former Reds stopper Siobhan Chamberlain – United confirming days later via Twitter that the injury was not as bad as first thought.
The following weekend Liverpool played Everton at Marine in another scoreless tie, this game seeing the introduction of the since-preferred 3-5-2 formation and with Satty and Leighanne impressing on either wing.
Before the Reds headed across to Germany and the Netherlands on a pre-season tour and training camp they defeated Blackburn Rovers 3-1 to pick up their first win – Kirsty scoring while on trial and another trialist and Courtney also on the scoresheet.
Over in Germany, Liverpool were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Essen (Razza the Reds goal scorer) and then played out a 1-1 draw with Champions League side Bayern Munich. Kirsty once again finding the back of the net and familiar face and two-time title winner on Merseyside Nicole Rolser featuring for the Germans.
Liverpool F.C. Women begin their FA Women’s Super League campaign looking to improve on last year’s 6th place [out of ten teams] finish on Sunday 9th September away at Arsenal.
Aways game at the Gunners are usually an exciting spectacle with goals scored from both sides – in recent years the two sides have played out two enthralling 3-3 draws while the Reds brilliantly beat Arsenal 3-1 a couple of seasons ago at Borehamwood.
One of the best away grounds in the league, you can count on a good atmosphere and an entertaining match – while Arsenal boast England vice-captain Jordan Nobbs and Dutch international Vivianne Miedema amongst their ranks.
At the end of October, start of November the Reds then face the two sides many expect to battle it out for the league title. Travelling to Kingsmeadow to face current holders Chelsea on Sunday 28 October before welcoming Man City at home on Sunday 4 November.
Last season the Reds proved they could go toe-to-toe with the teams at the top, defeating City 1-0 and, only for a Eni Aluko super-sub cameo, nearly beating the already-crowned Champions on the final day of the campaign.
Other key games to look out for include Liverpool’s first ever games against Brighton (away on Sunday 23rd September) and West Ham (away on Sunday 21 October) in the FAWSL.
West Ham in particular one to look forward to. The Irons managed by Liverpool’s two-time title winning Matt Beard and the gaffer joined by the brilliant Kate Longhurst as well as a host of talent from across the WSL.
The final game of Liverpool’s season is a tasty looking tie against Everton at home and the derby will hopefully cap a successful year for the Reds.
In conversation: Niamh Fahey
On Thursday morning ahead of training, myself and Neil Atkinson from The Anfield Wrap met with Liverpool’s new number five Niamh Fahey.
After completing an interview with Granada Reports, Niamh was in good spirits ahead of her competitive LFC debut on Sunday.
Niamh joins the Reds having played her career “predominantly in the U.K. with Arsenal and Chelsea and then spent a year in France with Bordeaux” and says of her time in the French league – “I really enjoyed it but missed the English league and the chance to come to Liverpool arose.”
The lifelong Liverpool supporter said: “It’s a dream to play for your club, for the team you grew up supporting and when the chance came I just grabbed it with both hands.
“From a very young age [I] grew up in a house of six boys and one sister and it was a predominantly Liverpool household – me being the youngest that got fed down to me. I grew up supporting them, following all the games, following Fowler and the likes of McManaman and carried on with it. I’m happy enough with where it has led now.”
Niamh is one of 12 new signings at the club this summer but says that this has helped the players to settle in.
“There’s a lot of new faces but it’s actually quite easy because there’s so many new faces! Usually you come into a new club, and into an established set up, and you kind of feel a bit out of place or it’s harder to fit in. Considering the fact there’s so many of us it’s been quite easy, every one has gelled well and it’s a nice group. It’s been a bit of an easy transition.”
Playing as the central defender in a back three that has Jaz Matthews to her left and Sophie Bradley-Auckland to the right, Niamh is confident of the Reds strength in depth and prospects heading into the new campaign.
“I have two very vocal people either side of me and we’ve had a lot of transition in pre-season with different faces. We’ve got a lot of big characters there and a lot of experience so that helps. As well the gaffer has been rotating people in and out so everyone knows different positions and it’s not just a case of playing in one certain position – the experience of being able to mix in and around several different positions will help us a lot this season.
“We will be well tested throughout the season, things have gone well so far in pre-season – we’ve kept a lot of clean sheets, it’s been a good start so we’re just looking to keep that momentum going.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s curtain raiser Niamh says: “You couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off the season – a Cup game against Manchester United – being a new team and everything with the old, historic rivalry that sits there. It’s a great one for us and everyone is absolutely buzzing and looking forward to it.
“For us as well Neil has come in and he’s said that [team culture] is going to be a massive thing – culture, getting our identity and having good values and sticking by them and building something. It’s not just a one year thing, it’s a project and you can feel that here. The standards are being laid down by him and it’s up to us to follow them and try and meet them.”
“It’s exciting times, it’s a blank canvas – we’ve started again but it’s a good place to be.”
Also speaking to LFC Women Blog and The Anfield Wrap on Thursday morning was recently appointed manager Neil Redfearn who gave a fascinating insight into his recruiting methods, healthy competition for places amongst the squad and praised the club’s youth set up. Neil on…
The club’s summer recruitment…
“Six weeks ago we only had four or five senior players so it’s been a big recruitment drive but I think we’ve recruited really well. We’ve recruited some really experienced players at all levels and we’ve got these exciting young players still at the club.
Having these experienced players is a great backdrop for these young kids to bring them into the first team and make them part of the squad. It’s exciting times, it’s a blank canvas – we’ve started again but it’s a good place to be.”
“When we’re recruiting – and it’s always how I’ve recruited to be fair – is first of all I’ve looked at the people, I’ve not just looked at the players.
We know what the players are capable of because we see them week in, week out even at other clubs but I think it’s important that we recruited good people. People that want to get on and get better, that enthusiasm and that drive drives the club on and I think that’s what we’ve got.
Then you’ve got to try and bring them together as a group, as a team and I think that the pre-season done that. It’s stood us in good stead – we had a great trip out to Germany, had a couple of tough games – and it gives the girls confidence, it gives them that bit of belief.”
Bringing several Doncaster players with him to Liverpool…
“I think the important thing with that was these girls know me, they know my methods and they know what to expect.
I’ve brought three leaders in my opinion – Rhiannon Roberts, Sophie Bradley and Leandra Little – they were integral in that Doncaster side and in the end we finished ten points clear in WSL2. Belles at that point were far too good for that level, these girls have proven that they’re good enough to play higher up. It makes it easier for the rest of the girls I think if they’ve got my background and my knowledge.
Leandra obviously has got one foot in both camps, she’s on this side with us [as club captain and Player Liaison Officer] and also in the dressing room which was important because it gives the girls a little bit of an insight so I think we’ve recruited really well.”
“We’ve got two or three different plans. The three at the back suits what we’ve got, we’ve got good balance – we’ve got left footers, right footers, we’ve got height and strength and pace and power at the back.
I know from my time at Doncaster we used to keep a lot of clean sheets at Belles and it was what everything was built on, we used to make it difficult for people. Then we’ve people that can score goals.
It’s a simple, basic principle but it’s something that we’ve brought to Liverpool and I think the girls have took to it.”
Competition for places…
“You learn from your experiences through your career, from my time at Oldham Athletic when Joe Royale was manager I think we had six strikers for two spots and he used to bring them off the bench and rotate them round.
It was the ones that were doing well that were getting in and it led to that competition – I look at us now and we’ve got four for two spots if you put Yana Daniels in there as well. I think that’s quite healthy and the girls that are in there have took it in good part, they know there’s a bit of competition, they know there’s an onus on them to score goals and that’s what you want from it.
If it breeds that then we’ve got a plan b from the bench and I think it’s important that you turn round and look at your people on your bench and think ‘yeah we can change this, we can go after teams.’”
Youth players at the club…
“You’ve got a great area to build from,you’ve got a strong youth base. We’ve got a great development group, we’ve got a good RTC programme, we always bring young kids through. We’re not going to get everybody through – that’s football.
You look at what we’ve got in and around the squad at the moment, people like Niamh Charles, I know Rinsola Babajide was brought from Watford but she’s only young, Ellie Fletcher, Amy Rodgers, Missy Bo Kearns.
[Bo’s] had a fantastic pre-season with us, in fact with her it’s stopping her play for all age groups, we’ve got to tell her now ‘you’re with the first team, you’re not with the devs anymore’. She wants to train and play with everybody – but it’s not a bad trait, she’s enthusiastic and she wants to play.
These young players excite me because I know we’ve got the right people in place, in regard to the experience, for them to go and play in the first team. They’ve already had a bit of a feel for it in pre-season and they’ll only benefit from it.”
To hear the full conversation head across the The Anfield Wrap. (A link will be posted here once the show is up)
The backroom staff
As mentioned previously Leandra will play a dual role in the Reds upcoming season, completing her playing duties alongside her role as club captain and player liaison.
From last season’s staff Team Analyst Jordan Whelan and Strength and Conditioning coach Alan Jordan remain – with Neil keen to highlight their importance to the set up in the latest edition of LFC’s monthly magazine on sale now.
Introducing the new members of staff to LFC Women Blog and The Anfield Wrap, Neil praises the appointment of Chris Kirkland saying that Chris “has come in as goalkeeper coach, he’s a vastly experienced football person. He knows the club and he’s played for the first team so there’s a clear link with everything there.”
Someone who needs no introduction to followers of LFC Women Blog is new first team coach Vicky Jepson, promoted from her role as Development Squad manager. Neil told us: “I’ve done my research and my background and everyone I spoke to about Vicky gave me glowing reports. She’s an outstanding young coach and now we’re putting her in a place where she can really affect things.”
Former Sheffield F.C. manager Zoe Johnston has also been given a role in Neil’s backroom staff as Technical Director of the club’s RTC and the gaffer once more was quick to point out the experience Zoe brings to the set up: “Zoe’s got great experience at WSL level, managed Sheffield and knows the difference between getting young players and getting them into the first team.”
Hina Chauhan is the final new face amongst the Reds staff and will be the club’s physiotherapist.
On Sunday some of you will head to Prenton Park and will see a starting line up that contains players you’ve maybe not seen play before, of the 11 that started our last game of last season only three remain.
When I think back to the first game I watched the Red women play back in 2013, I’d never seen them kick a ball either. However that team and this club have changed my life in so many ways – give this side a chance to change yours.
The squad that Neil and his staff have assembled is one that will fight for the badge, will play for the shirt and will leave everything on the field.
Get behind them on Sunday, sing and shout for them. Support them, we’re all Reds.
“Don’t you know, it’s going to be alright…”
Sunday’s game will be played at Tranmere Rovers ground Prenton Park, where Liverpool faced both Everton and Chelsea at the tail end of last season. A further announcement is expected in due course regarding where the team will play for the rest of the campaign and information regarding season tickets can be expected shortly after
The Continental Cup clash against United will be also shown live on BT Sport, with the Reds trip to Brighton in September also penned in for television coverage
The other teams aside from United in Liverpool Conti Cup group are: Everton, Reading and Durham. The top two sides will progress to the next round
Liverpool will enter The FA Women’s Cup alongside the other WSL clubs in the fifth round in February
Once again this season I will be contributing to The Anfield Wrap talking all things Liverpool F.C. Women so make sure to head across and give them a follow – @TheAnfieldWrap
LFC Women Blog is available to follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, if you have any questions please contact me on any of those platforms or via the contact section at the top of this page
On Friday afternoon, the day after the transfer window closed, Liverpool F.C. announced the deadline day capture of Fran Kitching from Sheffield United – a move that seen the Reds loan Ellie Fletcher to the Blades for the 2018/19 campaign.
Fran is a highly rated 20-year old goalkeeper who has represented England at youth level and joins the Reds following spells at Chelsea and Watford.
The new Liverpool stopper made her debut on Sunday afternoon, keeping a clean sheet and looking confident behind her new team mates – despite having only trained with them once.
After Liverpool announced the signing of Fran, I spoke to my friend Hannah who runs CWFC Fans who has watched the Reds number 18 on many occasions.
Hannah told me that “even though [Fran is] little she’s got a big voice and is always throwing herself about” and that she’s “very agile, quick and has good reactions.”
Last season while on loan at Watford the goalkeeper was named the Hornets Player of the Season – a feat for any player but particularly a ‘keeper.
Watford general manager Ed Henderson tells me that “Fran is a great personality, she has a real hunger to do well and win.
“She’s very vocal on the pitch and organises her defence well, making a number of impressive saves last season in what was a difficult campaign for all involved.
“Her shot stopping is very good as well as her distribution. She’s also very comfortable playing out from the back and good with her feet.”
Ed also cites her performance against Liverpool in The FA Cup last season as one of her highlights from her time at the club – Reds supporters will remember the string of impressive saves as Fran denied Bethany England on several occasions and kept the scoreline down.
Another stand out was a save Fran produced away at Sheffield which Ed says was “exceptional, and probably the best save I’ve seen since being at the club.” I’ve included the image below!
Fran arrives at the Reds along with fellow new signing Kirsty Linnet (blog to follow) and the pair really seem to complete this squad which, for me at least, is highly exciting and one that we all as supporters can really rally behind.
Amongst a host of summer signings in 2018 Liverpool FC Women announced the capture of prolific striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk from Merseyside rivals Everton.
A top class professional, Courtney will wear the number nine shirt for the Reds this season with Jess Clarke taking up residence in the number seven.
Upon signing Courtney spoke about how she’d consulted her ex-Doncaster Belles team mates about playing for Neil Redfearn, saying that “they only had positive things to say about working with Neil so I am really excited to get the opportunity myself.
“Neil has made it clear that he wants to have a side that gets the ball down and plays good football so I am confident that this will suit my style of play perfectly.
“It is a fantastic move for me and I am confident that I can score many goals during my time at the club.”
Courtney’s confidence is a major part of her playing style and Liverpool fans who have been lucky enough to see her play during pre-season will have been encouraged by her all-around game – dropping a little deeper than normal during a tough battle against the Blues to help link the midfield to the attack and sparking the game against Blackburn to life.
The opening stages of the second half against Blackburn gave a glimpse into what we can expect to see from this team over the course of the season; Jess coming from the bench and linking excellently with Courtney and the trialist, the trio combining on a series of attacks that seen the Reds go two-nil up.
In that game Courtney registered an assist with a superbly drilled cross along the 6-yard box and completed the scoring by opening her LFC account in the closing minutes of the tie.
Against Leicester, the club where our new striker began her playing career, earlier this week Courtney came from the bench and once again was involved quickly in the thick of the action.
What was most impressive, particularly for me, about her introduction off the bench was the intensity with which she approached the game – entering the field with the Reds three-nil up yet showing no signs of taking proceedings lightly, fighting for every ball and every decision.
Exactly what you want to see from your centre forward.
Long-time supporters and followers of women’s football will have heard the name Courtney Sweetman-Kirk when she grabbed the headlines a couple of seasons ago smashing goals in left, right and centre for a resurgent Doncaster team.
Courtney was also the Blues top scorer last season, and I spoke to Everton Ladies Supporter’s Club Secretary & Match Day volunteer Julie Makin about our number nine.
Julie says that Courtney “is a grafter always gives 110% on the pitch, great team player with an eye for a goal or two.
She is excellent with fans always stops to chat and answer any questions. She will be loved by the Liverpool fans.”
These thoughts were echoed by Doncaster supporter Kyle Thornton who told me Courtney “pushes herself to the limit” and that we are “getting one of the hardest working players in the league.”
To have Courtney at the Reds, a proven goal scorer who will work hard, compliments the side Neil is building. The manager himself stating “”I know that a number of other clubs were interested in signing Courtney so we are delighted that she has put faith in our ambitions for the future and chosen to sign for Liverpool”
Welcome to Liverpool, Courtney – it’s going to be a great year…
Satara Murray, better known by her nickname Satty, is now one of Liverpool’s longest serving players having made over 50 appearances for the Reds since joining in 2015.
A fan-favourite amongst Liverpool supporters Satty is renowned for her rampaging runs from right-back and putting her all into every minute spent with a Liverbird upon her chest.
Currently away with Liverpool on a pre-season training camp in Holland, Satty took part in an Instagram question and answer session with new teammate (and housemate) Leighanne Robe.
Satty said that the training camp with the team has “been fabulous, it’s been a really good week so far in terms of team bonding and training sessions and playing – it’s been one heck of a week.”
“I’ve been here [at Liverpool] for a while and this is probably one of the best training camps I’ve been a part of in the last four years so there’s really good times ahead for sure.”
The number 44 also praises the Reds team spirit, saying “in terms of the other foreigners on this team they could probably tell you the same exact feeling in terms of feeling at home and not out of place.”
Something immediately endorsed by Leighanne who says she “recognised that vibe straight away as well, it’s been really good – everyone says it feels like family but I’m telling you this is the best family -ever!”
Ending the question and answer session with a quick look ahead to the first competitive game this new-look Reds squad will play against Casey Stoney’s Manchester United [on Sunday 19 August], Satty said: “It should be really good, they’re obviously a really good side and we’re a really good side as well so I think – especially being the Conti Cup – it’s going to be an all out war.”
This week Liverpool Football Club announced the name change of Liverpool Ladies to Liverpool F.C. Women, amongst the many replies to the announcement were a mixture of ‘why does it matter’ and ‘good on you’.
In the article they spoke to expert on sociology and sport Professor Kath Woodward who explained that “the use of ladies suggests a physical frailty and need for protection.”
This view was backed up by Deborah Cameron, a professor of language, who stated that City changing their name made it “less encumbered by a long history of squeamish euphemisms”.
To get opinions from other fans I approached Ley Hodgson and Debbie Hughes, two long time supporters of Liverpool who travel home and away to watch the team.
Ley says that “it comes down to the perceived definitions between ‘ladies’ and ‘women’ from an equality perspective.”
It could be something to do with the term lady having a pre-perceived notion of conduct and behaviour based on a concept of what femininity should be. And the FA banning football for females [in 1921] on the basis of unlady like conduct.”
While Debbie believes that the name changes occurring across the WSL could be to align teams to the name of the league – the FA have called the league the women’s league since it’s inception and England also use women when differentiating between national teams.
Debbie also says, “for me personally it doesn’t matter what they are called – at the end of the day it’s just Liverpool FC on the badge.”
I guess to summarise, to supporters of the women’s side and women’s football, it doesn’t matter in a day-to-day sense yet in an ever-changing world of women’s rights and the connotations of language it matters a whole lot.
Earlier today Liverpool’s fixtures for the 2018/19 FA Women’s Super League and group games for the Continental Cup were revealed.
The Reds start with a home cup game against newly formed Manchester United Women on Sunday 19 August before beginning their league campaign away at Arsenal Women following the international break on Sunday 9 September.
That opener against Manchester United will likely draw widespread media attention and the venue for the game remains to be announced – keep an eye on official platforms for any announcements regarding stadiums and season tickets etc.
For me, the first fixture I look for is the Merseyside derby and Liverpool supporters are in for a treat with two ties against the Blues inside a week in December; on Sunday 2nd we face Everton at Marine in the league and four days later get to beat them all over again at home – wherever that may be – on Thursday 6th in the Continental Cup. Merry Christmas, Everton!
The home league derby comes right at the end of the season, the final game of the campaign on Sunday 12 May.
Other notable fixtures for the Reds include first ever games against Brighton and Hove Albion (Sunday 23rd September) and West Ham (away on Sunday 21 October).
Full list of fixtures:
August 19 – Manchester United Women (H) – Continental Tyres Cup – 2pm
September 9 – Arsenal Women (A) – 2pm
16 – Durham Women (A) – Continental Tyres Cup – 12pm
23 – Brighton & Hove Albion Women (A) – 2pm
30 – Reading FC Women (H) – 2pm
October 14 – Yeovil Town Ladies (H) – 2pm
21 – West Ham Women (A) – 3pm
28 – Chelsea FC Women (A) – 2pm
November 4 – Manchester City Women (H) – 2pm
18 – Bristol City Women (A) – 3pm
25 – Birmingham City Ladies (H) – 2pm
December 2 – Everton Ladies (A) – 2pm
6 – Everton Ladies (H) – Continental Tyres Cup – 7pm
9 – Reading FC Women (A) – 2pm
12 – Reading FC Women (A) – Continental Tyres Cup – 7.30pm
January 6 – Brighton & Hove Albion Women (H) – 2pm
13 – Yeovil Town Ladies (A) – 3pm
27 – West Ham Women (H) – 2pm
February 10 – Arsenal Women (H) – 2pm
March 13 – Chelsea FC Women (H) – 7pm
31 – Manchester City Women (A) – 2pm
April 21 – Bristol City Women (H) – 2pm
28 – Birmingham City Ladies (A) – 2pm