Jurgen Klopp’s old office and state-of-the-art facilities: Behind the scenes with Liverpool Women

Liverpool's Leanne Kiernan trains in the gym at Melwood
Liverpool's Leanne Kiernan trains in the gym at Melwood - Paul Cooper

Matt Beard looks out over Liverpool’s historic Melwood training pitches from his corner office. The room, which belonged to Jurgen Klopp before the men’s team left the site, does not have many personal touches specific to women’s manager Beard, save for one priceless item hanging on the left wall.

It is a painting of his father, Michael, whose death in 2022 was, the 46-year-old says, the worst time of his life. When the painting is mentioned in conversation, he takes a moment to compose himself. It was painted personally for Beard by Lee Billiard, his former general manager at Boston Breakers and Bristol City, who is currently Aston Villa’s head of women’s football, as a birthday present. Beard’s appreciation for that gesture – he hails Billiard a “great man” – is consistent with what his colleagues at Liverpool have been saying about him all day: that he is a “family man” who cares deeply about the people he works with.

“I treat them like they’re my own. It’s important that I look out for them. The person comes first,” Beard says of his staff and players. “Here, no one is above anyone. For me, it’s important that everyone feels valued, so I make a habit of saying good morning to everyone when I come in, just to make sure they know, whether they’re in the kitchen or the physio room or the ground staff…” Beard then speaks with great joy about goalkeeping coach Joe Potts and striker Shanice van de Sanden’s respective partners both giving birth recently. “Your job is your job. Family comes first.”

Liverpool Women's manager Matt Beard at Melwood
Liverpool Women's manager Matt Beard at Melwood - Paul Cooper

This softer side to Beard disappears completely, however, if he feels his team are not performing on the grass. That is exemplified when Telegraph Sport is afforded a rare chance to observe a full training session, as Beard prepares his team for Saturday’s Women’s FA Cup quarter-final at home to Leicester City.

The players are put through their paces on the training ground
The players are put through their paces on the training ground - Paul Cooper

“There’s no second-phase movement, come on,” Beard barks, in between multiple expletives, before turning to assistant performance analyst Noah Sansbury and saying: “I need that clipped up.” The footage will be replayed to the players in their team meeting the day before the match. Beard’s frustration eases as the drill, aimed at beating Leicester’s expected press, later begins to click nicely.

‘Melwood has brought us closer together as a team’

Sansbury is filming the session using a camera on a very high, extendable pole that he is doing well to balance. It is one of a number of new training aids at Melwood, which the football club bought back for the women’s team last year having previously sold the site to housing developers – last season they shared a training base at Tranmere.

Pitchside, during the session, physical performance coach Danielle Williams is receiving live GPS data from trackers on every player, monitoring how far and how fast they run. Inside, the state-of-the-art facilities include a sauna, steam room and plunge pool.

Liverpool Women have access to state-of-the-art facilities
Liverpool Women have access to state-of-the-art facilities - Paul Cooper

“There are a couple of phases to the project here,” Beard explains of plans for Melwood. “The next stage will be to actually have cameras installed, so that we can potentially film the training actually from up here [Beard’s office].”

In his first spell as Liverpool manager, Beard led the club to back-to-back Women’s Super League titles in 2013 and 2014 while they shared Widnes Vikings’ ground. He cannot help but laugh at the contrast in surroundings. “Widnes Vikings would train in the morning and we’d train in the afternoon. I probably had an office that was smaller than this for me and all of my staff. We had one physio, no doctor – I think for two of the three years I didn’t have a general manager. It’s night and day from the professionalism of the set-up.

“Melwood has brought us closer together as a team. [When training at Tranmere], the players would probably just come in at the time they were in for, whereas here they have breakfast together so the bond has got a lot closer. But I also think, because of the history of Melwood, it’s given us that bit of added responsibility on our shoulders, because of the people that have worked here, played here and trained on these pitches. Now we have an opportunity to write our own history here.”

The canteen is Beard’s favourite part of the building because of the camaraderie. He begins with an omelette at about 9.30am – one of dozens made to order by the kitchen staff – and raves about “those little gnocchi things, they were handsome” he enjoys at lunch. Spending the day behind the scenes, however, shows this site is about much more than the food.

The canteen at Melwood
The canteen brings the players together - Paul Cooper

In the morning, strength and conditioning coach Colm Smith is in the gym keeping a careful eye on each player’s load. The gym’s upper floor features quotes from Muhammad Ali aimed to inspire.

Liverpool Women doing strength and conditioning in the gym
Liverpool Women doing strength and conditioning in the gym - Paul Cooper

In the reception area, the team’s trophy display is being installed. Painted on the adjacent walls are a breakdown of the histories of the women’s team and Melwood, where current midfielder Missy Bo Kearns used to watch the men’s team train as a youngster.

‘It would be great if we can get our fanbase to Wembley’

The rewards on the pitch appear to be extensive. Sunday’s 4-1 victory at Aston Villa enabled  Liverpool to move level on points with fourth-placed Manchester United – they have already accumulated more points this term than they did all of last season.

“We’ve made good progress,” Beard says. “If I look at last year, there were a lot of challenges, it came down to the injury list at the top end of the pitch. We wanted to make sure that history didn’t repeat itself. We’ve got good depth within the squad this year, which has enabled us to kick on, and everyone has just fitted in like they’ve been here for years.”

Liverpool have not been to a Women’s FA Cup final for 28 years and if they get past Leicester they would be in their first semi-final for seven years. Beard is eager to bring success. “We used the Conti Cup [League Cup] slightly differently this year, because we had more depth, there were players we wanted to use in the Conti Cup to give them minutes, whereas in the FA Cup, we want to go as far as we can. I’ve experienced Wembley with West Ham [as manager in 2019]. It’s an unbelievable occasion. And we’ve got a fantastic fanbase so it would be great if we can get them to Wembley.”

Beard’s affection for the fans has been strengthened by his time away from the club. “When you come away from the football club, you realise how special it is. I remember at a fans’ forum once a fan telling a story about going to the [2005] men’s Champions League final, and how he told his wife the car had been stolen, but it hadn’t, he’d actually sold it so he could pay for the flight, for the ticket to the final and everything. Football does come first in this city, I’ve never seen anything like it. It is amazing. It’s special to me because it is a special place, it really is. I love the city, I love the people.”

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