Just as the Men’s team are going through their pre-season rituals, the Women’s team have been hard at work preparing for their season ahead — their first in the Championship League after being relegated upon the cancellation of the FA WSL season due to the pandemic.
Considering that fact, they have been hard at work a lot longer than the Men’s team, who had their own season to finish and then a two week break after that. The Women’s team, however, have been in training essentially since it was deemed safe to begin, in mid-July.
They have also played a couple friendlies since then to get themselves into match fitness, and take from it what you will, but they have won every single one.
This is remarkable considering they only won one match in the entire last season, and scored a collective two goals.
That’s right, that’s how bad their season was in 2019-2020.
I’ve written about this before but Liverpool Women’s problems are not with their players or their manager, but the neglect on the side of the club. That neglect showed itself in the missing pieces that would help the squad. There are resources that the Men’s team always seem to have access to that the Women’s team never do, like state of the art analytics teams, etc. Just the mere fact that there are staff members on the touchlines of men’s games with iPads to show substitutes what to do before they go on is a huge advantage that the Women’s team have never had.
Who knows if those resources have suddenly become available to the Women’s team now, but I’m choosing to look at the positives here.
Those positives are a 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers at the beginning of August, 3-1 win against Reading, a 4-1 win against Coventry on the 17th, and a 1-0 against Brighton on Sunday. All three of Liverpool’s new signings this summer, Rachel Laws in goal, Taylor Hinds at left back, and Amalie Thestrup at forward, played the full 90 minutes against Coventry last Monday. Jess Clarke returned from injury and Rinsola Babajide has a new number.
These are all super exciting developments that, unfortunately, a fan has to search for to follow along. The news of the new signings came from the club’s website, and that’s about it that has come from the club officially. The only time they wrote about the result of a women’s friendly was about the Coventry match, when two matches had already been played and unannounced anywhere else. The scores from the friendly matches have come from a fan run podcast’s Twitter account.
If a fan were to look at the official Liverpool FC Women’s team Twitter account they would see plenty of pictures of training in the new gear, advertisements for the new Nike away kit featuring Kirsty Linnett, announcements of Niamh Fahey taking over the captaincy and… that’s about it.
No news of the team’s success throughout pre-season, or about their opponents.
God, it feels like it’s even gotten worse since they’ve gotten back to work. Despite the good results, it feels as if the club has leaned fully into using the Women’s team as a prop.
Models for the new Nike gear and little else.
If one were to go to the News portion of the official site, and looked simply at the aggregated news of all the squads, it would take clicking over to the second page to find one that focused on the Women’s team — the announcement that Niamh Fahey was named captain on August 17th.
It is a full week later, the Women’s team have played a match since then, and won it.
I told myself I would focus on the positives. Yes, those wins are positives. They show that we do have a talented squad, with skilled defenders that are actually able to maintain our leads, and forwards that are finally able to find each other and the net. Those are huge positives, considering one of the two goals the squad scored last season was a penalty kick.
It is so hard, though, to focus on the positives when the club can’t even do the bare minimum to support these women. They cannot even keep fans apprised of the pre-season matches that the team has gone through, when they can write at least six pieces and release videos for a pre-season friendly against Stuttgart with the Men’s team.
The bare minimum is what they had done last season by live tweeting games - and that is with the FA WSL being widely accessible through the FA Player that allowed fans to watch matches, for free, anywhere.
It seems that they can’t even do that anymore. One could chalk it up to the pandemic not allowing that kind press into the stadiums, or something. I don’t know, maybe that’s giving them too much credit. The Men’s teams were allowed over a hundred press personnel for every match. Apparently the Women’s team can’t even get someone in to live tweet their matches.
Liverpool makes it so hard, so unnecessarily hard to support their Women’s team. It feels often enough that they are actively trying to make it hard to support the Women’s team. And sure, you can finally buy an actual Women’s team shirt on the online store for the first time maybe ever but that is a small consolation when you can’t even find match reports online for a friendly match when they’re supposed to start in a new league.
We as fans are supposed to be excited for the new season, for the return of former players like Rachel Laws and injured ones like Jess Clarke. That excitement is hard to find, though, when the club won’t even acknowledge that the Women’s team are playing half the time. When their own official Twitter account won’t even announce a match is happening.
Liverpool have to do better at this point, when the survival of the Women’s team depends on its accessibility to the fans. When they are counting on the fans to show their interest — and yet they make it so difficult to engage.
These women deserve better.