There is no doubting that Ceri Holland has been an inspired signing for the Reds. She has galvanised a squad which has endured its fair share of ups and downs this campaign, but which finally seems to have turned a corner.
Proof is in the pudding, after they stretched their unbeaten run to six games after the 2-0 victory over Lewes. It is no coincidence then that their recent uptake in form has coincided with Holland’s introduction to the team.
She was again at the heart of everything Liverpool did well that day, taking a quick free-kick in the build up to Meikayla Moore’s crucial second goal.
The Yorkshire-born midfielder joined in the January window just gone after a spell in America, where she played for the University of Kansas for four years whilst studying in the States.
Her arrival on Merseyside initially flew under the radar, with little fanfare on social media when the deal was announced, as one would expect given the circumstances.
Here the Reds were, picking up a 23-year-old fresh from playing college football, having previously featured in the Man City academy and for her country at u19 level.
She was viewed as an exciting prospect having won a number of accolades in her time with Kansas, but was an unknown entity to many in the professional game.
Holland also joined the club in a period when it was down in doldrums after a tumultuous start to 2021. Vicky Jepson was relieved of duties as first team boss just days before arguably Liverpool’s biggest game of the season against Leicester, with Amber Whiteley coming in for her.Embed from Getty Images
The Reds ended up losing that game 2-1 which ultimately killed their promotion hopes with four months of the season remaining.
Rinsola Babajide, their talismanic star, then refused to train after being denied a move away from the club late in the window to compound the doom and gloom surrounding the club.
The Reds were in dire need of a spark to salvage their campaign in the second tier and lay the foundations for a new manager in the summer to launch a sustained title charge.
Step forward Holland, who hit the ground running immediately. No-one could have predicted the impact she would have upon the side when she was brought on just after half-time to make her debut against Charlton.
She arrived late in the box to stab home a late goal from Hodson’s cross to open her account for the Reds. They then conceded a penalty moments later and squandered the chance to take home all three points in the London snow.
Holland had already done enough in her 45 minute cameo to warrant a first start in the following home game against London Bees, and she didn’t disappoint.
After being denied by a good save in the first period she made a darting run into the box and coolly slotted home her second goal in as many games from Lawley’s pass.
She netted her third goal for the Reds in only her fourth appearance in the 5-0 rout of Coventry United as well as providing an assist for Becky Jane’s goal in what was arguably her finest performance – although it is hard to choose given there have been so many – since she sealed her switch to Liverpool.Embed from Getty Images
Her performances haven’t gone unnoticed. She received her first call up to the senior Wales squad in February for a training camp and has also been included in new boss Gemma Grainger’s panel for friendlies against Canada and Denmark.
She was also crowned crowned FA Women’s Championship Player of the Month for February as recognition for her fine start to life on Merseyside.
Holland normally starts on the left of a midfield three, linking up well with whoever is playing on the left flank (Hodson or Lawley) often interchanging passes with them before either getting to the byline and crossing for others, or darting into the area to get on the end of the wide player’s delivery.
It is her tireless work rate in the middle of the park which is to be admired more than anything. She is constantly hustling and harrying opponents high up the pitch to win back the ball in dangerous areas and launch a swift counter-attack.
Her fitness levels are immense as Holland regularly continues her high press until the whistle is blown, always looking to create a chance, even in the dying seconds with Liverpool holding an insurmountable lead.
She certainly has the quality as well. Holland can hold off defenders who attempt to knock her out of her stride and keep the ball close when making long mazy runs. She is also able to thread an eye of the needle pass through to her teammates at the right times to maximise their chance of scoring.
Holland has shown that she also has an eye for goal, clinically dispatching a variety of chances and often being Liverpool’s go to player when they need a goal.
She seems to have integrated into the squad well, having already struck up a friendship with fellow prodigious talent Missy Bo Kearns.
Their relationship off the pitch has undoubtedly strengthened their one on it, with the two often involved in neat passages of play. It’s no surprise Liverpool’s better performances since Holland’s arrival have come when she has started in a midfield three with Bailey and Kearns.Embed from Getty Images
Bailey is an excellent holding midfielder who allows the two in front of her to push on and influence the game further up the pitch. It is a strategy which has paid dividends for all involved.
Although her performances have been mightily impressive so far, Holland will know that she must continue to deliver on a consistent basis to propel Liverpool up the table.
Irrespective of the state of the club in the summer, whoever comes in next to take the reigns will have another future star to work with, and Holland will be hoping an established figure at the helm and a full pre season under her belt will only benefit her development further.
The incoming manager could do no harm in building the team around Holland and Kearns, two young starlets hungry to take Liverpool back to where they belong.
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