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Departing Beard calls on FSG for more investment

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I know this subject has been touched on elsewhere but I thought it deserved its own thread from our POV.
Liverpool FC Ladies manager Matt Beard called on club owners FSG to invest more into the team – or risk the Reds being left behind in a two-tier Women’s Super League.

...And with the two-times champions finishing seventh out of eight teams in the Women’s Super League (WSL), Beard spoke out on the need for increased investment from the club after losing key players like Lucy Bronze, Nicole Rolser, Louise Fors and Gemma Davison after previous title success.

Beard told the ECHO: “The list’s endless of world class players and I’ve just not been able to replace them. You can’t not have any investment when the other teams are going forward. The players deserve better.

“It’s been a big learning curve for some of these youngsters. To have 10 in your group that came through the Centre of Excellence is a credit to the work we’ve done over the last few years there and with the development squad.

“But I’m hoping now we can get some investment into the team because we haven’t had it for a while, we keep losing players.

“Manchester City, Chelsea, Notts County, Sunderland, they’ve all upped their game and unfortunately we’ve stood still. Look at the players that Arsenal have brought in during the two transfer windows. My hands have been tied. If you don’t continue to improve like the other teams do, you finish where we do.

“The Women’s game is becoming like the Premier League now – there’s going to be a mini-three (Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal) and the rest of us fighting it out for 4th to ninth next year. http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/liverpool-fc-ladies-boss-calls-10246487

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I imagine that if club budgets aren't already being determined in part, whether directly or indirectly, by match attendances then they very soon will be. And we are at a distinct disadvantage to a lot of teams in the league given our current home ground is not located somewhere ideal and nor can it be changed to somewhere more suitable as nowhere exists. I know a lot of factors influence the gate numbers but I still believe location is what holds us back more than anything else. 

City's ground is over the road from the Etihad, Chelsea are moving closer to what is more typically the CFC catchment area, Arsenal are rumoured to be building themselves a ground though I don't know where. If we can't financially compete with those three now then we aren't going to be able to medium/long-term either once their attendances climb and they get even more money from that while our situation remains the same as it is now.

I don't think there is one easy solution to any of this. If we truly wanted to get back to the top and stay there it would require a comprehensive, and most likely expensive, plan to first of all considerably improve our match day and training facilities to put us on a par with the better equipped. Everything stems from doing that. It sounds as though this is exactly what Arsenal have in the pipeline. Yes FSG could in theory just throw a load of cash at us but that wouldn't do anything to address the underlying issues. They aren't the type of owners to do that anyway; they are big on being clever and self-sustaining. For us to go down that road we need better gates; to get that we need a better located stadium; to get one of those we need evidence such a thing would be a worthwhile venture; to prove that we need better gates. It's catch 22. And it is only going to be overcome if somebody at the club cares enough to say what the hell and writes off the cost of making it happen. But I worry that Beard leaving means the only person who is in a position to hammer this home is leaving too.

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^ How ironic that us getting to the top came as a result of Arsenal's complacency leading to them taking their eye off the ball, and now multiple clubs are overtaking us after just a couple of years because we were the ones who didn't do enough to maintain our position. I always feared that as soon as the person who orchestrated our overhaul left the club (which they did prior to the 2013 season even starting) that we would be left without anybody who had both a genuine interest in our fortunes and FSG's ear, meaning there was nobody in place to continue the push. It seems like this is exactly what has happened.

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I can't remember exactly when I started to get the impression that players weren't coming in because we couldn't afford them but I've had it for a while now. What struck me pretty quick was that our squad size in terms of senior players was going down, as if we were having to sacrifice numbers in order to better pay the players we already had. That is understandable to a certain extent, but not so much when you remember how close we came to being derailed by a lack of squad depth last year. I know we could never have signed the numbers necessary to overcome this season's injury debacle because the amount of absentees is unprecedented really, but even if we had ended up with only half the injuries I still don't think we would have been equipped for a title run.

The only thing which makes me feel a little better is that the squad depth issue is not unique to us. Nobody really boasts the numbers to comfortably get through a season as cramped as the WSL's is. But I think one of the points Beard is trying to make is that we won't all be in this same boat forever.

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Guest wrote:^ How ironic that us getting to the top came as a result of Arsenal's complacency leading to them taking their eye off the ball, and now multiple clubs are overtaking us after just a couple of years because we were the ones who didn't do enough to maintain our position. I always feared that as soon as the person who orchestrated our overhaul left the club (which they did prior to the 2013 season even starting) that we would be left without anybody who had both a genuine interest in our fortunes and FSG's ear, meaning there was nobody in place to continue the push. It seems like this is exactly what has happened.
It has always been the case that women's teams who are affiliated with a men's team only ever truly prosper if the club on the whole has somebody on the men's side of the equation who happens to have both an interest in women's football and a good enough standing to have a direct line to board level management. Anybody who doesn't have this is usually given their handout and left to their own devices, or they fall into a newly emerging category reserved for the rich clubs who are only bankrolling their women's team because they can and because it wins them brownie points. 

We were in the ideal position one time and that's how we ended up going from 8th to 1st. But like you said, remove the person responsible for the overhaul and it doesn't appear anybody has filled the gap. It didn't need to be a whole new person, just a genuine change in attitude with one already here would have sufficed. But that doesn't look to have happened. So we go back to just getting our handout and being left to it, because those who sanction our budget don't care enough to make sure it stretches far enough, they just know that once upon a time it did so it must still do.

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Guest wrote:...But I worry that Beard leaving means the only person who is in a position to hammer this home is leaving too.
You are right. If having two league titles to show for your work isn't enough to win you some favour with the moneymen then not much will. Some of his quotes read like this is still his problem. It's not of course, because this time tomorrow he will be gone. And so if the next manager coming in doesn't have the level of stature which might hold some sway or doesn't have the nerve to rock the boat immediately upon getting their new job then I can't see anybody else championing our cause otherwise they would presumably have been doing it already by now.

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Even if the club did now recognise that they've slipped and gave next season's budget a significant boost as a result of us finishing 7th and Beard calling them out publically -- what's to say the damage hasn't already been done and that players who sensed it may be time to jump ship haven't already set their next move in motion. We could still end up practically having to start all over again. And there would be no guarantee that the next squad assembly would be anywhere near as successful as Beard's was. Look how long is it taking Arsenal to reclaim top spot for example.

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Guest wrote:You are right. If having two league titles to show for your work isn't enough to win you some favour with the moneymen then not much will. Some of his quotes read like this is still his problem. It's not of course, because this time tomorrow he will be gone. And so if the next manager coming in doesn't have the level of stature which might hold some sway or doesn't have the nerve to rock the boat immediately upon getting their new job then I can't see anybody else championing our cause otherwise they would presumably have been doing it already by now.
Valid points but you missed one... what if we have hired somebody who up until now has been used to operating with pennies and what they are due to get here is pounds. Are they even going to straight away realise that a budget which is larger than one they've ever had at their disposal before is still not actually large enough for the job at hand? They might be quite content with what they get.

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Guest wrote:Even if the club did now recognise that they've slipped and gave next season's budget a significant boost as a result of us finishing 7th and Beard calling them out publically -- what's to say the damage hasn't already been done and that players who sensed it may be time to jump ship haven't already set their next move in motion. We could still end up practically having to start all over again. And there would be no guarantee that the next squad assembly would be anywhere near as successful as Beard's was. Look how long is it taking Arsenal to reclaim top spot for example.

Progress to the next round of the CL and regardless of how many players are on expiring contracts it buys us a guaranteed extra month with them all still here. That should be plenty of time to get the necessary parties sat around a table for the purpose of properly discussing the issues mentioned in this thread. If the outcome was positive and if it was reached while the squad is still present, then we could at least try to sell them a different picture before they all disperse for the off-season. Would it convince everybody who is half way out the door to stay? Probably not. It might make some change their mind though.  

But it all hinges on the club actually wanting to open those discussions. And I get the sense Beard has been trying and failing to make it happen for a while now.

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Dowie's take on the situation: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/liverpool-fc-ladies-need-more-10264201

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I do like that the Echo are running articles which highlight this. And with multiple journalists writing them too. There is a strong relationship between the paper and the club so at least we know the club isn't telling them to steer clear of anything negative (like the FA who have a tendency to ignore anything but positive PR pieces). It doesn't mean the message won't still fall on deaf ears though, but at least it is being carried by something which has a direct line to those who need to hear it.   

I still can't shake the feeling that this is something we should have hashed out long before the season ended though. It's the type of thing where being proactive instead of reactive saves you an awful lot of bother.

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I still can't shake the feeling that this is something we should have hashed out long before the season ended though. It's the type of thing where being proactive instead of reactive saves you an awful lot of bother.

I don't understand what it was that we were suppose to have hashed out? Are you using the club "we" or the fan "we"? If the club isn't interested in participating in an arms race with Man City and Chelsea they are not either being proactive or reactive they just aren't interested.

The club, through Beard established/invested in a great working academy for girls as seen by the youngsters that Beard was able to draw from for the first team when he needed it and our success in the development squad and the different u's. The club has also invested by providing facilities (maybe not the best) and means for the girls to train full time. Sure as a supporter I want us to win everything but at the end of the day as long as FSG maintains the funding of our youth programs and our first team players are full time and paid a living wage, I don't care if we don't get in three or four marque signings every year (that more than not will be foreigners coming into the league and earning way more than our average player). I still think we can compete through great coaching, hard work, keeping first team players fit, promising youth coming through, and a team spirit that will make quality players want to join Liverpool.

I think Beard will regret going over to Boston but it was probably the best for everyone at this point.

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There are two types of competitive teams - those who have what is genuinely a top level squad and those who don't but who are able to bring together what they do have to be better than the sum of its parts. 

Beard is quite simply saying (not just in this article but in others too) that Liverpool don't currently have the money to assemble the former, and that one day assembling the latter just won't be enough because the gap between genuine top level and the rest will grow too large for 'better than the sum of its parts' to bridge.

Success is never only about what your own club does, it's about what your club does in comparison to what everybody else is doing. Can you only compete for trophies if you sign a load of big players? No, because it's a team game at the end of the day and quality individuals do not equal a quality team. But if the clubs you want to compete against have squads full of quality individuals you can certainly get your task off to an easier start if you do too. It's hard enough to create a team which functions - you really don't need to be doubling your work by having to make it function above and beyond as well if you don't have to. Liverpool are a big enough club to not have to.

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