ColumnMatt Beard on learning from Man City loss, Kearns' century and youngsters

By Matt Beard


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In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard reflects on the loss to Manchester City in the Barclays Women’s Super League and discusses the promising talents emerging from the club’s academy.

While it was a very frustrating day for us against Manchester City at the weekend, when you come up against these top teams this is where you can learn so much.

The positive was how we started the game but I think there was also a bit of a lesson learned in the sense of when you concede against these top sides, you just need to reset and go again. But we conceded again more or less straight away.

We’ve made great strides this year but I think maybe the away game against Chelsea and the two encounters with Manchester City have shown how big the gap is from the top two, top three. There is still a lot of work to be done to close that gap.

We have been competitive with these teams most of the season. If you look at our start to the game with the way we pressed and forced them into turnovers, we know that we can do it. But it’s been that consistency. We had two cheap turnovers that gave them a foothold in the game.

It’s a big learning curve and from my end I probably need to look at how we need to set up against these teams because I don’t want scorelines like that, especially if we can’t do what we did for the first 15 minutes of the game consistently.

I’m not taking anything away from the quality of some of City’s goals but there were also some errors from our end. At the end of the day, you learn from them, you really do.

The 5-3-2 formation has served us well this year and we’ve got most of our points off the back of that. But it’s also good that if we need to change it we can. We did OK in the second half and we could have done better with the chances we created.

Our set-plays have been a real big plus for us this year but I felt on Saturday that let us down. We had three corners that didn’t beat the first player and a free-kick that went out of play. It’s little moments like that, as when you are playing against these top teams you have to take your opportunities.

I’m not going to get upset and frustrated about it and point the finger at anyone. At the end of the day, we were playing against a world-class side who have been in that top three, top four for nearly a decade of football now.

We haven’t been there for so long and we are trying to break into that. We should be so proud and celebrate what we’ve achieved so far this year.

Nobody wants to lose football matches – especially me, you all know what I’m like – but sometimes you’ve just got to take a back seat and think they are where they are for a reason.

Gareth Taylor has done a fantastic job. Look at when he lost top players in Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway, they struggled at first and it takes time. Now they have built something and I think it’s something special with that team.

I’m not overly concerned. I know where we are and what we are doing. The team have been fantastic and we are doing well.

It was great to see Taylor Hinds back and what a goal that was too! We miss Taylor when she is not available. She is still finding her feet in the WSL as well, as you have to remember this is only her second season playing consistently in the WSL.

Having lost Jas Matthews to injury, it’s great to have Taylor back now as I think it’s important to have that natural balance down the left side.

I want to say congratulations to Missy Bo Kearns, who made her 100th appearance for the club on Saturday.

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She is a great character who loves this club and I’m delighted for her. To get 100 appearances at such a young age is a fantastic achievement.

Missy Bo has great potential. If I look at this year and it’s not just her as we’ve had it with a few players, it’s just finding that little bit of consistency.

She is working hard in training. She has had a fantastic impact from the bench because of how she is when the game opens up. We have used Missy Bo and Marie Höbinger in different games.

We felt Missy Bo was better to start in the derby against Everton, with Marie coming off the bench, and then vice-versa in some of the other games. That’s the beauty of having a squad full of talented players.

Missy Bo is also captain of England U23s, she is only 22 and I believe she has a great future ahead of her.

I had two young academy players on our bench on Saturday in Maddy Duffy and Mia Leath. Mia came on at the end for her debut and she deserved that moment. We have also had Charlie Chadwick and the goalkeeper Eva Spencer training with us for the last month.

Mia has got better in every training session and she has had senior football experience with Stoke City as well. Mia is a Scouser and it was great to see her face when I told her she was going on.

I didn’t get to see her parents after the game but I was told they were beaming. It’s just great to see what it means to her and her family. She deserved that opportunity.

We also have a very talented young player on the way back from an ACL injury in Zara Shaw. I think she would have been playing now but for her injury, if I’m being honest with you.

She was absolutely devastated with the injury that she got but she has been working so hard and is ahead of schedule in rehab. What an athlete and what a player she is going to be in the future.

We have got some really exciting young players in our academy and I am really proud about that. I’m the type of manager who will give these young players an opportunity. My philosophy is it doesn’t matter what age they are – if they are good enough, they will play.

We have an extended break now with the internationals and then the Adobe Women’s FA Cup semi-finals. I think this has come at the right time for us, to be honest.

We can take our time to get the likes of Jas and Niamh Fahey back fit. Yana Daniels will be back from concussion as well. We wish all of our international players all the best.

Our next game – away at Bristol City on April 20 – is an important game for us now to keep the pressure on Manchester United leading up to when we face them at Prenton Park.

As I’ve always said, we want to finish as high up this league table as we can and the game at Bristol City is one we need to win.

As always, thank you for your continued support.



Matt Beard was speaking to's Steve Hunter



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