Liverpool embrace ‘history and expectations’ on Women’s Super League return

Niamh Fahey is determined to lead Liverpool to a revival of their glory days in the Women’s Super League.

The Reds were WSL pioneers when they became the first team to begin full-time training in the two-year-old competition in 2013.

It paid off immediately, luring players like Lioness Fara Williams, now England’s most-capped player, to join Matt Beard on his way to back-to-back titles.

But by 2020 others had caught up, Liverpool’s fortunes had turned and the WSL founding members – still one of only four teams ever crowned champions – were relegated to the Championship.

“It’s Liverpool Football Club and it carries its weight with history and expectations,” captain Fahey told the PA news agency.

“We have to make sure that the first thing we know is that it’s going to be a really difficult task. We need to consolidate our position in WSL, but we also need to strive to be back at the top (teams) and win titles and be really competitive at the top of the table again.

“We know it will be difficult. There’s that expectation.

“[But] It’s a welcome push, to be honest. You want to be at a big club with expectations, motivations and desires and Liverpool definitely have that. It’s really a welcome thing and an honor to be at the club.”

The WSL season was due to open last weekend but, like the rest of football, has been postponed out of respect for the Queen’s death. Sunday’s kick-off was brought forward nearly two hours to allow staff, players and fans to watch the national moment of reflection at 8pm.

Fahey’s newly promoted side, who won the league by a crucial 11 points last season, were originally set to play Reading away from home.

Now they face what is arguably the toughest test of all when they host Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, who are aiming for a fourth consecutive title and begin the journey strengthened by the arrival of Champions League winners Kadeisha Buchanan and Eve Perisset.

Liverpool’s squad has mostly stayed in touch with Beard, who left the Reds in 2015 and was enjoying his second stint at the helm since rejoining in 2021.

Fahey extended her stay at Liverpool during a summer that also hosted defender Gilly Flaherty, ‘strong’ midfielder Emma Koivisto, goalkeeper Eartha Cumings and the return of popular Dutch winger Shanice van de Sanden from Wolfsburg, whom the captain believes will be the case that she will add “important experience” to her side.

September 25 also marks the return of the Merseyside derby and the first time Fahey’s side have played at Anfield since November 2019.

It is one of several marquee games planned for Premier League venues throughout the WSL and Championship seasons, with others taking place at Old Trafford, Selhurst Park, Amex, Etihad and the Emirates. Chelsea’s postponed season opener was also set to take place at Stamford Bridge.

“We can’t wait,” said Fahey, whose side lost the last iteration 1-0 in front of 23,500 fans. “Back at Anfield and everything in the Merseyside derby, it doesn’t get any better.

“It’s an incredible stadium atmosphere and hopefully we can get the Reds behind us to give us that extra boost.”

The 34-year-old Ireland international played for Arsenal when WSL started, winning titles with the Gunners and later Chelsea. The increase in games being played in big venues is among the many things Fahey has witnessed in what she describes as the league’s “day and night” shift.

“I think it’s important to send the message that women’s football is here,” she added.

“It’s here to make progress, it’s here to stay. These are not just symbolic gestures. This is about people who are genuinely interested in supporting the advancement of women’s football and achieving the level of standards and expectations that we can all achieve.

“I think it’s long overdue.” Liverpool embrace ‘history and expectations’ on Women’s Super League return

Fry Electronics Team

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