By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
Being in the managerial hot seat at club like Liverpool is a huge task, one that Vicky Jepson is getting to know well.
She took over at the helm in late October after Neil Redfearn resigned the previous month – former Reds goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was joint-interim manager with her while the club searched for a permanent candidate and is now her assistant.
Jepson is tasked with rallying a group of talented of players who, in contrast to their male counterparts, are underachieving – they currently sit in 8th out of 11 teams in the Women’s Super League.
Earlier in the decade Liverpool FC Women enjoyed an unprecedented period of success, winning the WSL for the first time in 2013 and retaining the title a year later. Jepson will be hoping to bring back that success in the coming years.
Dave Davis spoke to her for The Kopite
Hi Vicky, you’ve only been in your role as head coach a month or so. How would you say things have gone so far?
“We started off our season getting some great results against Durham, Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham and Yeovil Town. We then faced two of the best sides in the division in Chelsea and Manchester City which were both really difficult games.
“It took us five games on the bounce to find a way to bounce back which was our away drew against a strong Reading Women side. This group of players and staff have had many hurdles to get over in the first half of our season – however this has only brought us closer as a team.”
With all the changes in the squad and behind-the-scenes, it was always going to be a tough campaign. What goals have you set yourself?
“Build a positive and competitive environment with clear game plans for each game. Also key is to get the best out of our key performers and main leaders on and off the pitch.”
It’s noticeable the youthfulness of the current set-up and the likes of 18 year-old Lauren Thomas getting her debut. Will ‘blooding youth’ be a key feature of this year?
“Youth development is something that I’ve spent many years involved in for Liverpool and England. I feel that it is important that our young talented players are given opportunities if they deserve it.
“The youngsters who show consistency in training and games in our youth setup will always get opportunities for both club and country. It’s rewarding to see graduates like Ashley Hodson, Niamh Charles and Amy Rodgers step up and be an integral part of our first team. I’m sure there will be many more players to come.”
With the likes of Chris Kirkland being involved in your set-up, do you pull on examples from the men’s game?
“Chris is a delight to work with and I know that our goalkeepers have learnt so much from Chris’s experiences from being a professional in the men’s game. Chris is also a fantastic assistant to have alongside me and I am delighted to be able to work alongside him.”
You’ve been at the club since 2009 and worked with varying age groups and levels. What experience can you take from that into the role?
“Having good people skills is key – from working with different staff, players and parents making sure you manage all their expectations is vital. I always say and live by this ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’.
“I think my time working in the England setup educated me the most – competing against different countries. Coming up against different tactical, technical and physical challenges at qualifiers and European tournaments where the pressure is on is a big test!
“I’ve been lucky to travel with the men’s first team on three pre-season tours and have had the privilege to watch Jurgen prepare his team for the season, which is always a real privilege and valuable learning experience.”
You’ve previously done great work with the club’s official charity – The LFC Foundation. What were your highlights of your time working there?
“I loved being a part of such a great organisation that allowed me to positively effect some many young peoples lives across Merseyside and internationally.
“Coaching the LFC legends for the charity games was a dream come true to be able to deliver a session for our very own legends, especially when Ian Rush scores the winning goal of the session with a volley! Travelling with the men’s first team on their pre-season tours is certainly something I’m also very proud of.”
At such an important time of year, what would you say to the average Red wanting to do something good this time of year?
“On your weekly shop get a few extra bits for the food bank that LFC support #HDWCC”
With England’s recent successes and a World Cup draw against Scotland, is the profile in the women’s game higher than its ever been?
“From our last World Cup out in Canada where we brought the Bronze medal home and now our England WU20s bringing back the bronze back highlights the real quality we have here.
“It’s evident female football is on the rise in the media and attendances of fans across the country. This was highlighted by the record attendance this year at the Women’s FA Cup Final with an outstanding 45,000 which was an impressive 10,000 more than the previous year.
And finally, if everything went to plan as you wanted, how would everything look for yourself in the next few years?
“Competing and winning trophies with Liverpool FC Women would be a real dream come true for me!”