Blog by: Siddharth
Liverpool are at the top of the table, two points clear of Bristol City. The title is going to be decided by the outcome of the final match of the season, and as fate would have it, it’s Liverpool against Bristol right at the end. At half-time, Liverpool are 1-0 up, courtesy a penalty 10 minutes before the break. The title is within Liverpool’s grasp.
No, the year is not 2030, where a dominant Liverpool side are the toast of the era. It is very much 2013. However, its Liverpool Ladies, and not the men’s team, which is on the verge of winning the FA Women’s Super League title. After having won a grand total of two games over the last two years.
The phenomenal rise of the Liverpool lasses is not surprising for someone who is aware of the changes which took place at the end of last season when the Ladies finished at the bottom for the second year running. But the pace with which Matt Beard-who took over at the start of the season-has managed to put together an attacking and fluid team after having rung in wholesale changes is surprising.
People stood up and took notice when Kenny Dalglish, and then Brendan Rodgers, bought and sold enough players to field two teams in an attempt to make the men’s team title contenders again.
In the world of women’s football, where even the ten-time defending champions Arsenal train only twice a week, the all-mighty shuffle resulting from the in and out movement of more than a score of players at the end of last season was unprecedented. Had the touch from the men’s team rubbed off onto the women’s management after the ladies were brought under the Liverpool Football Club umbrella?
Not really. What Matt Beard and his staff were doing wasn’t a squad reshuffle, but more of a reshuffle of the women’s game. In a league where full-time training is unheard of, the offer from Liverpool ladies to conduct training throughout the week was attractive enough to pull six foreign internationals from countries like Sweden, Germany and the United States. But the proverbial icing on the cake was the recruitment of Fara Williams and Natasha Dowie from neighbors Everton. And they haven’t disappointed: Dowie tops the scoring charts in the WSL with 19 goals.
The benefits for the Liverpool women’s team have been immense once they were brought under the ambit of Liverpool Football Club. From English lessons for the foreign signings to training sessions with their male counterparts, the integration of the two teams has been more than just a show of support. And if any proof was required, the men provided it by not holding back, as was evident from Luis Suarez’s tackle on Ladies’ captain Gemma Bonner during a training exercise.
The players are not the only ones to reap the rewards of a more professional approach to women’s football. Matt Beard’s life too has changed for the better, as he does not have to double-up as a real estate agent to pay his bills as he did while he was managing Chelsea Ladies. The functioning of the team are his only concern, as they should be.
As Liverpool prepare to face Sunderland in their premier league tie, news filters in that the ladies have clinched the women’s title after a 2-0 win over Bristol, with goals from Louise Fors and Katrin Omarsdottir, two of the foreign imports.
Rodgers and company may not win the title this year, but they don’t have to look too far for inspiration if they needed any. Beard and his girls are the latest champions in Merseyside.