Matt Beard’s best moments as Liverpool manager

Matt Beard has enjoyed two successful spells as Liverpool manager over the last 10 years, first taking over the Reds in 2013 after an impressive stint at Chelsea that laid the early foundations for the club to become as successful as have been since.

Beard left in 2015 to take up a job with Boston Breakers in the United States, later returning to England to lead West Ham in their first ever WSL season. A short spell at Bristol City followed, before a return to Liverpool brought about the club’s return to the top flight.

Here’s a look back at five of his best moments in charge of Liverpool.

Liverpool won the WSL in 2013Liverpool won the WSL in 2013

Liverpool won the WSL in 2013 / Matthew Ashton/GettyImages

Arsenal had been crowned champions nine years in a row by the time the 2013 WSL season began, dominating both the first two seasons of the new era and the previous seven of the old one.

That made Liverpool’s success even more triumphant to finish ahead of such an established force.

Natasha Dowie was WSL top scorer with 13 goals, with Nicole Rolser getting another 10. The Reds outscored the competition and eventually finished five points clear of second place Bristol Academy.

Beard’s Liverpool not only won the WSL in 2013, but they retained it in 2014, matching Arsenal’s record of having won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

The dramatic final day of the season saw the Reds actually start in third place behind title rivals Chelsea and Birmingham. But in winning 3-0 against Bristol Academy – Natasha Dowie, Lucy Bronze and Fara Williams all scored – they closed the three-point gap to Chelsea, who lost to Manchester City.

Birmingham also failed to take advantage of Chelsea’s slip-up due to being held by Notts County, which ensured the trophy remained on Merseyside for a second year.

Matt BeardMatt Beard

Matt Beard returned to Liverpool in 2021 / George Wood/GettyImages

After Liverpool fell badly off the pace in 2015 and Beard left for a new challenge in the United States, things gradually went downhill for the Reds to the point of relegation from the WSL in 2020.

But, after a year in the Women’s Championship, Beard was back and had every intention of taking Liverpool back into the top flight where they belong.

“When the opportunity arose, it was something I wanted to do. I’ve followed the club since I left,” he said at the time. “When you’re here and then you’re away from the football club you realise how special and unique it is. I’ve never been in a city or worked for a football club where the football is the be-all and end-all to the supporters. I just can’t wait to get started.”

Beard described Liverpool as the ‘perfect project’ and the ‘perfect club’ when he walked back through the door in 2021. Just over 10 months later, the Reds were lifting the Women’s Championship trophy and preparing to rise back into the WSL.

After a slightly sticky start to the season that saw Liverpool fail to win either of their first two home games, things came together as autumn turned into winter and the Reds went top following an important away win over Durham in November.

The second half of the campaign was far more comfortable, with Liverpool getting the job done, sealing the Championship title and promotion with an away win over Bristol City, Beard’s former club, with two games to spare.

Katie Stengel scored twice as Liverpool beat ChelseaKatie Stengel scored twice as Liverpool beat Chelsea

Katie Stengel scored twice as Liverpool beat Chelsea / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

As a newly promoted team, Liverpool could hardly have wished for a more challenging start to life back in the WSL than for a season opener against three-time back-to-back champions Chelsea.

And yet, this was a game that proved just how competitive the WSL has become in recent years, with every team able to beat any other on a given day.

The contest looked like it might head only one way when Fran Kirby put Chelsea into the lead with a third minute penalty. But a record crowd at Prenton Park roared Liverpool on and Katie Stengel equalised from the spot midway through the second half. The American then converted a second penalty a few minutes from the end.

“It’s stupid to ever say you just want to stay in the league. We’re here to compete, we’re not just here to survive,” she said afterwards.

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