The Rise and Fall of Liverpool FC Women: From Back-to-Back Titles to Relegation Scrap

​In 2013, Arsenal Women's astonishing period of dominance in English football was brought to an end. 

The Gunners had won nine consecutive top-flight titles, and even completed a historic quadruple in 2007 as they became the first, and still only, British women's side to conquer Europe. 

Arsenal were untouchable. As they were crowned 2012 WSL champions, few would have predicted that the team to halt their charge towards 10 consecutive league titles would be the side who had finished rock bottom of the table for the past two years. 

Arsenal Ladies FC v Birmingham City Ladies FC - The FA WSL Continental Cup Final

​Liverpool Women had mustered one win in the entirety of the 2012 campaign. But suddenly the club decided to take women's football seriously. And they weren't just going to take it seriously. They were going to take it the most seriously out of anyone in the country.

Liverpool's owners invested heavily, and they became the first club in the league to train full time. Despite being pioneers in the women's game, even ​Arsenal were only training twice a week at that point. This allowed manager Matt Beard to quit his job as an estate agent to coach the team full time.

Liverpool's progressive stance enabled them to attract players of the highest calibre. They poached England midfield engine Fara Williams, striker Natasha Dowie (who was blessed with the same eye for goal as her uncle Iain) and a young, up and coming Lucy Bronze from local rivals Everton. A number of high profile foreign additions were also brought in, which at the time was a rarity in the WSL.

Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women - WSL

The Merseyside outfit made 12 new signings in total as the squad was completely overhauled. Critics argued they would never gel in time, but the club sealed the 2013 league title on the final day of the season to complete a remarkable turnaround. 

Having trailed Arsenal by 29 points the previous season, they had finished six points ahead of the giants of the English game 12 months later.

The following season in 2014 saw Liverpool snatch the title on an enthralling final day, as both Chelsea and Bristol City failed to hold their nerve. No women's team other than Arsenal had won consecutive top flight titles since the mighty Croydon WFC in 2000. 

However, just a matter of months after winning consecutive league titles and being crowned 2014 PFA Player of the Year, Lucy Bronze departed for WSL newbies Manchester City. In a way, the significance of the move mirrored Luis Suarez's departure from the men's team the same summer. However, instead of joining an already established super-club like Barcelona, Bronze was taking a chance on upstarts City. 

Bronze's move was a sign of things to come. Liverpool had attracted big name players because of their professionalism and ambition. So when Bronze moved to Man City, citing "the way City are growing, the ambitions they have and what they want to do with the team is unbelievable. In the women's game, it's unheard of really" as reasons for signing in an interview with the ​club's website. This perhaps suggested that Liverpool had taken their foot off the gas in terms of aspiration and investment.

Man City had become the new Liverpool, but instead of competing with them, they were replacing them. 

An injury-plagued Liverpool endured a difficult season in 2015 and finished second from bottom, avoiding relegation by just five points. Matt Beard left for a job in the United States, and the club have not challenged at the top of the table since. 

Bit by bit, there were more high-profile departures. Fara Williams joined rivals Arsenal ahead of the 2016 season, and electric Dutch winger Shanice van de Sanden headed for European heavyweights Lyon the following summer. 

Perhaps the alarm bells were ringing loudest in July 2018 when Alex Greenwood opted to leave the club and joined Championship outfit Manchester United. When a club in the division below has greater ambition that you, something's not right. 

That summer, former Leeds United men's manager Neil Redfearn was appointed manager, in what looked like a positive forward step for the club. However, he sent the club into turmoil as he left Liverpool after just one league game in charge due to frustrations about the running of the club and summer recruitment.

Five years on from their back-to-back league titles, Liverpool picked up their first point of the season at the fourth time of asking ​against ​Bristol City on Sunday

This season is not going to be a fruitful one on Merseyside. They are yet to score from open play in the league, and suffered a shock Continental Cup defeat against Championship side Sheffield United. Liverpool could well find themselves playing the likes of Sheffield United every week next season.

This is a sad demise for a team that were trailblazers in the women's game for a brief period. But while everyone else has moved forward as the sport continues to grow in popularity and professionalism, Liverpool have largelstood still.

Source : 90min