Matt Beard column: Enjoy Anfield but play the game, not the occasion

LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Enjoy Anfield but play the game, not the occasion



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In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard looks ahead to Sunday's Merseyside derby with Everton at Anfield.

It was a great start to the new Barclays Women’s Super League season for us last Sunday when we got the three points against Chelsea, and we can take a lot of confidence from that.

  • Get your tickets to see LFC Women v Everton at Anfield here, with tickets starting at just £1 for kids

The real shame was losing Leanne Kiernan until the New Year with an injury, but we will support her fully and help her get through this tough spell being on the sidelines.

I was really pleased to get the three points against Chelsea. I felt defensively we were really organised and restricted them to minimal chances.

We knew they could concede goals on the counter-attack as they are very expansive and leave a lot of space. And if you look at the second penalty, Katie Stengel wins that from a counter-attack.

When Megan Campbell came on, they didn’t want to put the ball out for a throw-in, so it was interesting to see the psychological shift in the game as it went on.

We were really pleased with the account we gave and over the course of the game I think we deserved the three points in the end.

Highlights: Liverpool FC Women 2-1 Chelsea

I have spoken before of the desire and togetherness of this team and we showed that yet again, despite conceding an early penalty against Chelsea. We’ve worked a lot on that in the classroom off the pitch.

Fran [Dr Francesca Champ, performance psychologist] has done a lot of brilliant work on that. So from that perspective, you need to talk about things like that and you need to work on it if you go a goal behind early in a game.

We have covered a lot of things and prepared our players for all different scenarios. There’s one thing preparing them but obviously they have to go out there and deliver that, so collectively – from the staff and the players – I was really pleased with our response.

I know this is a special group of people and we all have each other’s backs. They work incredibly hard for each other and teams win football matches, not individuals.

For a team to be successful, you need some individuals who will obviously bring something to the plate but you’ve also got to have that work ethic, that desire, that we installed from day one when I came back to this club last year.

Katie Stengel kept her cool on two occasions for us and deserved all the plaudits that came her way.

She is a great character and I’m just hoping now that she trusts and believes in herself. I’m looking forward to seeing how she can kick on now.

Katie is deceptively quick, as she showed for the run that led to the second penalty, and she has got so many different ways of playing.

She came up against two of the best defenders in the women’s game and I thought she was excellent, so I’m really pleased.

It’s such a shame for Leanne that she picked up the injury against Chelsea. Unfortunately, she is going to be out of action until probably the New Year and she will probably require surgery.

Shanice van de Sanden will be out for a month as well with an Achilles problem that she aggravated in training.

It’s a tough card to be dealt with but this is why you have a squad and this is what it’s about. Everyone will have a part to play over the course of this season, so from that perspective we just carry on.

Anfield beckons for us on Sunday and it’s absolutely fantastic to get the chance to play in front of the Kop.

I have been fortunate that in my first spell with the club when I was manager we got the chance to play against Arsenal at Anfield in the Women’s FA Cup.

What a game it is to play at Anfield in a derby against Everton. We are really looking forward to it – but my message to the players is we have to make sure we play the game and not the occasion.

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Prenton Park has been a fortress for us, we are comfortable there and obviously this is going to be a different setting. But it’s one we can’t wait to play in and showcase what we started with on Sunday.

Anfield is such a special place. When I go and watch the men’s team, it is amazing and the atmosphere is unreal, especially when You’ll Never Walk Alone comes on. In football you go to places but to go to Anfield is unreal.

Everton will be another tough test for us, that’s for sure. They have had a big turnover and I’ve been impressed with what their new manager Brian Sorensen has done so far. I thought they were unlucky against West Ham United in their opening game.

As always, we will be respectful of the opponent but we’ll be setting up to win the game, like we always do.

We are taking the squad to Anfield on Friday just for a look around the place and give the girls some familiarity ahead of playing there on Sunday.

We are looking forward to welcoming Everton to Anfield and hopefully we can walk away with another set of three points.

Our fans seem to be getting louder and louder each game. They were amazing, as always, against Chelsea and we want to put smiles on their faces once again on Sunday night.

Thanks so much for your support.



Matt Beard was speaking to’s Steve Hunter

  • Get your tickets to see LFC Women v Everton at Anfield here, with tickets starting at just £1 for kids


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