BEARD IS CRED­ITED WITH REDS’ GROWTH

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Paddy von Behr

LIVER­POOL are los­ing much more than just a two-time ti­tle-win­ning man­ager this win­ter, ac­cord­ing to striker Natasha Dowie.

Matt Beard joined Liver­pool in 2012 and swiftly turned them into FA Women’s Su­per League cham­pi­ons the fol­low­ing year, with Dowie top­ping the league’s goalscor­ing charts.

To­gether they re­tained the tro­phy the fol­low­ing sea­son, be­fore a tricky cam­paign this year saw the Reds miss out on an un­prece­dented hat-trick of WSL ti­tles by some dis­tance.

Beard, who also worked with a teenage Dowie at Charl­ton Ath­letic al­most a decade ago, has left the club to man­age Bos­ton Break­ers in Amer­ica’s Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League – and his star pupil ad­mits he leaves big shoes to fill.

“Matt Beard’s not just my man­ager, he’s my friend,” said Dowie.

“I came to Liver­pool be­cause of him and I’ve worked with him since I was 17 at Charl­ton. He’s re­ally good at re­cruit­ing play­ers – we’ve had some world class play­ers at Liver­pool and to be back-to-back cham­pi­ons and make his­tory – there have been a lot of pos­i­tives.

“I wish him well at Bos­ton and hope­fully our paths will cross again. I’m sure he’ll be great out there. It may not feel it at the minute, but he’s left the club in a much bet­ter po­si­tion than what it was.The next man­ager has a lot of ex­cit­ing play­ers to work with.

“It’s hard to see him leave and we re­ally wanted to fin­ish with a win to see him off, but it’s typ­i­cal of the highs and lows of foot­ball.

“I per­son­ally think this sea­son has made me ap­pre­ci­ate the highs even more. I don’t want an­other sea­son like this and I think the ex­pe­ri­ence will make us stronger as a team and as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Beard’s reign came to an end ear­lier this month with a 1-0 de­feat to Bres­cia that saw Liver­pool knocked out of the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League 2-0 on ag­gre­gate. And he will be suc­ceeded at the helm by his former as­sis­tant man­ager of three years Scott Rogers.

Liver­pool had al­ready fin­ished sec­ond from bot­tom in WSL 1 and lost in the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup semi-fi­nals to Notts County – just three days be­fore the Bres­cia loss.

And, al­ready trail­ing to Sara Gama’s goal in the first leg, Bar­bara Bo­nansea struck to put a full stop on a frus­trat­ing cam­paign.

“I think we played quite well but one lit­tle switch off has cost us an away goal and then it was al­ways go­ing to be an up­hill bat­tle,” added Dowie.“Look­ing back on the sea­son, it’s one to for­get with all the in­juries we’ve had.

“It has been an emo­tion­ally drain­ing sea­son.”

FOND FAREWELL: Natasha Dowie is sorry to see her man­ager and men­tor Matt Beard leave Liver­pool

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