Liverpool‘s second attempt to achieve promotion from the Women’s Champions all kicks off on August 29, and they have a new, but familiar manager looking to get the job done.
But after a strong finish to the season that saw an eight-game unbeaten run in the league, optimism remained for what could be around the corner.
What followed was another summer of change in regards to both the manager and playing personnel, all of which the Reds will hope is enough to clinch the sole promotion spot.
So, how are Liverpool FC Women shaping up ahead of the 2021/22 season and what changes have been made?
Captain: Niamh Fahey
Top goalscorer: Rachel Furness (5)
Position: 3rd (39 points)
* All statistics league only
From Vicky Jepson’s shock departure to Rinsola Babajide’s transfer request, there was a lot on Liverpool‘s plate in a season where an immediate return to the WSL was on the agenda.
It was not to be as the Reds ended the campaign 11 points short of the promotion spot, but Amber Whiteley’s time at the helm helped lay the late building blocks and saw the club head into the summer with momentum on their side.
The season also marked the emergence of 20-year-old Missy Bo Kearns, who ended the campaign with the Reds’ joint-most assists across all competitions (four) and the fourth most goal contributions across the entire squad.
Add the youngster’s name to Meikayla Moore, Ceri Holland and Rylee Foster and Liverpool have exciting talent at their disposal.
New manager, same aim
Six years after leaving the club having managed the team between 2012 and 2015, a time that led to back-to-back WSL titles, Matt Beard made his return over the summer after pipping Whiteley to the post.
The 43-year-old has a job on his hands to lead Liverpool back to the top-flight and one of the key areas to address will be to get the scoreboard ticking as departing players saw their goals taken with them.
Recruitment over the summer saw three new attacking options emerge but the task has and will be to ensure there is harmony between the midfield and those in the forward line – which hasn’t always been the case.
With experience in the division with the players and manager, the goal is clear: promotion.
“Our ambition this season is to get promoted, it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be a tough league this year. It’s a really exciting project for me,” Beard told This Is Anfield.
Sophie Bradley-Auckland – Sheffield United
Amalie Thestrup – PSV Eindhoven
Jess Clarke – Sheffield United
Becky Jane – Free agent
Amy Rodgers – London City Lionesses
Kirsty Linnett – Retired
Rinsola Babajide – Brighton (on loan)
It was another summer of heavy rotation for Liverpool following the arrival of Beard, with Rinsola Babajide the only departee currently set to ply their trade in the top division.
But it was not a quiet exit for Becky Jane and Kirsty Linnett after the pair criticised the club for their conduct during contract negotiations.
“It would have been nice if someone from the club had the decency to tell me that they were retracting the contract offer they’d previously sent to my agent,” Linnett wrote on social media.
“I feel that after three years at the club the least I deserved was a face-to-face meeting the moment they knew they wanted to let me go.”
- Leanne Kiernan – Winger, forward
- Yana Daniels – Winger
- Megan Campbell – Defender
- Jasmine Matthews – Defender, midfielder
- Carla Humphrey – Midfielder
- Rianna Dean – Forward
- Katie Startup (loan)– Goalkeeper
- Charlotte Wardlaw (loan) – Defender, midfielder
- Lost vs. Leicester (A) – 3x 30-minute games games
- Drew 2-2 vs. Man United (A)
- Won 3-2 vs. Celtic (H)
- Lost 2-0 vs. Blackburn (H)
- Drew 0-0 vs. Birmingham (A)
It was a mixed bag for Beard’s side throughout the summer with five friendlies having been scheduled with a diverse selection of clubs from the WSL, Championship and Scottish Women’s Premier League.
There would be just a single victory against Celtic, that ended 3-2, as the Reds’ new-look squad took to the field to refind their match fitness and sharpness throughout a pre-season schedule that would stretch over 60 days.
London City Lionesses (H) – Championship – Sunday, August 29 – 2pm (BST)
Watford (A) – Championship – Sunday, September 4 – 2pm (BST)
Bristol City (H) – Championship – Sunday, September 12 – 2pm (BST)
Crystal Palace (H) – Championship – Sunday, September 26 – 2pm (BST)
Coventry United (A) – Championship – Sunday, October 3 – 2pm (BST)
The Reds will start their new campaign under the tutelage of Beard at Prenton Park on Sunday, in what is the first match of a 22-game campaign that will run until the start of May.
The division has expanded to 12 teams this season, but it remains that there is only a single promotion spot to the WSL, while only the last-placed team will be relegated to the National League.
Fans can tune in throughout the season on LFCTV and the FA Player here.