In his latest column, Liverpool Ladies manager Scott Rogers looks ahead to Saturday's first game of 2018 when Yeovil Town Ladies visit the Select Security Stadium in Widnes.
We have enjoyed our Christmas break and it goes without saying we can’t wait to get back on the pitch once again on Saturday evening at our home ground. You get used to the long breaks in the women’s game and over Christmas we gave the players some downtime so they could spend some time with their family over Christmas. We have trained well since we returned and we are looking forward to this game.
Our objective at the start of the season was to be competitive in the Women’s Super League and I think we have done that. We have shown we can compete with everybody in the league and for us it’s one game at a time and our priority now is to start 2018 in fine style with three points against Yeovil. At the end of the season the table never really lies and hopefully if we get our performances right we will be right up there towards the top end of the table.
Yeovil Town Ladies might be bottom of the Women’s Super League and lost all of their games so far, but we will certainly not go into this game thinking it will be easy, far from it. I’ve watched their games and they are a very well-organised side. They have a good system and have a good idea of how they want to play. They have a direct and really effective style of play which was proven by their success in FA WSL2 last season.
I think they have been unfortunate in their games so far, and like any game in this league if you don’t perform to your highest standard then you can get punished. We mustn’t focus on their form and previous results as we know it’s going to be an extremely difficult game for us which we have to be fully prepared for.
We hope to get 2018 off to the best possible start in front of our fantastic supporters at home. I think we have got fantastic supporters who understand where the women’s game is at and they understand what we are trying to do as a football club. They are a very important part of the club and we never underestimate them. When you play in a tight game, which I expect Saturday’s one to be, then you need your fans to push you over the line. In our last Women’s Super League game, which was in November against Birmingham City Ladies, our fans were superb and hopefully on Saturday night they come back refreshed after Christmas to support our girls.
We said a fond farewell to Natasha Harding last week and we wish her well with her new challenge at Reading Women FC. Natasha did a fantastic job for me and I’ve not got a bad word to say about her. From our point of view, we offered her a new contract but she decided to go for a fresh start and we wish her all the best for the future.
We’ve got some very good players here. Natasha was a very good player for us but she’s moved on now and so do we. It’s important we focus on the good group we have, we are in a good position and we have some excellent young players coming through. One of them, Niamh Charles, has been a regular in our team this season and has been one of our most consistent performers.
We have known for quite a long time how special a talent Niamh is. It is just a case of managing the expectations surrounding Niamh at the minute because she is still extremely young. Sometimes you can heap pressure on young players too much, which we are keen to ensure we don’t do with Niamh. We have some excellent players in our forward line, which means we don’t just have to rely on Niamh. It’s about her growing with us and us managing her development.
We should also have Amy Turner back in the squad for Saturday, which is fantastic. Her return has taken slightly longer than we anticipated but Amy deserves a lot of credit for the hard work she has put in to return from injury. She looks in a very good place and I always said if we could get her back fully fit once again, which I believe we have done, that we have signed one of the country’s best defenders and I still stand by that.
We are very happy with the player we have recruited and we have to manage her fitness properly and get her back on track because she is still quite a young player. She has missed a year of football and she needs minutes now to get back to the level we all feel she can be at.
On the injury front we will also have Satara Murray available again in the not-too-distant future. It was disappointing for her to pick up an injury but she has been working so hard in rehab and we can’t wait to get her back on the pitch again. The great news for us when we lost ‘Satty’ was that Martha Harris was back in action and looking better than ever. We have great competition for places now at the back and as a manager I can’t ask for more than that.
Thanks for your support,