LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Season review, summer plans and thank yous
In his final column of 2022-23, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard gives his reflections on the campaign and pays tribute to the Reds' fantastic supporters.
I think we look back on the season with immense pride, to be honest with you. We’ve had lots of ups and downs over the course of the year, we had a tough start, but we can take a lot of pride and confidence with our second half of the season, especially with how well we performed.
We picked up a lot of points in that second half of the season and cemented a mid-table return with a seventh-placed finish in the Barclays Women’s Super League.
To achieve that with a lot of players at the top end of the pitch missing through injury, the players deserve an enormous amount of credit, because tactically they’ve been really challenged this season for so many different reasons. We are pleased with our return and it’s now about consolidating and growing.
I was pleased with our recruitment last summer and in January and all players we have brought in have made a fantastic contribution to this football club. The biggest thing in football is you’ve got to bring in good people as well and I think for the most part we get that right.
If I look at the impact all the signings have had, they have all been excellent, and if you look at how Emma Koivisto finished the season, I feel she has been fantastic. It’s great to see how many players have grown as the season has gone on, the likes of Missy Bo Kearns and even Taylor Hinds back in the WSL, so that has been great to see.
Ceri Holland was named Players’ Player of the Year and I think that is well deserved. Ceri has been outstanding. Last season she played in a different position in midfield and this season we’ve had a midfield three. She also played at full-back and out wide for us too, so she was challenged a lot.
When she came back in pre-season everything just fell into place for her, and since Fuka Nagano has come in, Ceri has had a lot more freedom and she has been absolutely outstanding.
While we were frustrated not to take anything from our final game against Manchester United on Saturday, overall our form has been good at Prenton Park this season. The fans make a big difference for us. In the FA Women’s Championship Prenton Park was a real fortress for us.
I know better than anyone you need to pick your points up at home in the WSL. On the road it is tough and that is something we need to address next season, because we didn’t get a win on the road in the league, apart from winning away in the Continental Cup. We picked up some valuable points on the road, but it is something we need to address.
Obviously we said our fond farewells and made some special presentations to our departing players who we won’t forget. I thank each and every one of them for their contributions: Ashley Hodson, Leighanne Robe, Rhiannon Roberts, Megan Campbell, Carla Humphrey, Rylee Foster and Charlotte Clarke. Every single one of those players have been great servants to this football club, and I want to wish them all the best for the future.
It was fantastic to see our U21s get the chance to get the applause of our supporters during Saturday’s game at Prenton Park, after they won the FA Women’s Super League Academy League Plate final against Tottenham. It was a fantastic achievement and a proud moment for Jennie Swarbrick, Leandra Little and the girls. I’ve always said our young players coming through is an integral part of the club and it’s important we progress players and bring our own through.
We now look forward to a break and then some of our players get the opportunity to play in the World Cup, which will be an amazing experience for them, but the hard work never stops during the close-season.
We always work well in advance of ourselves and we’ve got our top targets and our secondary targets. Paz [Lucy Parry] had a fantastic season on loan at Hibernian and she got their Player of the Year award. I want to say congratulations to her and I just spoke to her before. That will be like a new signing in itself getting Paz back with the experience she has had on loan.
We pretty much know who we want to bring in during the summer. We are excited for what we are building, we want better depth in the team next season, which in turn creates better competition for places and it raises standards in training as well. That is key for us to continue our development as a team.
I would like to pay a special tribute to my backroom staff, who once again have been amazing for me. The staff have been tested and challenged this season. The medical team with the injuries we’ve had as the demands of the WSL are completely different to the Championship. The technical staff have been fantastic – as they always are – and they deserve a big pat on the back and they all deserve a good break.
As always, I want to say a big thank you to our fantastic supporters. You have been there home and away supporting the girls, which has been absolutely brilliant. Our average home attendance has grown again this season and that is great to see and long may it continue.
I would also like to say a special thank you to the football club and Expedia for taking the fans on the road with us. It has been a big help for us having them with us and I know the supporters appreciate it so much, so thank you very much.
Thank you so much for your continued support, have a fantastic summer, enjoy the World Cup and we’ll see you next season.
Matt Beard was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Steve Hunter