In a media call with Boston Breakers general manager Lee Billiard and freshly-hired head coach Matt Beard, both men hinted at much change to come for a team that has been struggling for a while now.
"Matt really checks off all the boxes of what we were looking for, on and off the field," said Billiard. "In terms of the playing style his team has, exactly what we want here in Boston. His off field philosophies in terms of player management. Going to help us really build a family environment and the culture that we want here. His knowledge of the game is absolutely tremendous. I think he's really a sign of ambition of what we want here in Boston. We need to do better job on the field and be challenging for an NWSL championship."
Part of challenging for that championship will undoubtedly come in the form of a shakeup in the roster. "We'll sit down and we'll continue to evaluate that and make some changes to make sure we've got some more depth and we're more competitive," said Billiard. "This past year we did a lot of work off the field regards to making the fan experience better with the stadium. We obviously want to keep improving that side of things. And obviously working the business side of it with all different youth partnerships that we have, our academy program, different revenue streams to help us operate as a business, to be able to fund the pro team."
"Fans, they want success overnight. As a business we still have to try and operate gradually when we can. But the immediate short term future is making sure that we're improved in this roster. Making sure we're striving to be at least in those playoffs next year."
The process of approaching Beard at Liverpool and signing him seems to have been a fast one. "It happened quickly, over the last week," said Beard. "Boston approached Liverpool to speak to me. We've had an international FIFA window break here and once I knew of Boston's interest and we had spoke and I was keen to come my wife took my children out for the day and I spent the day watching all the highlights of last season's games."
Beard has already spoken with Billiard about potential changes to the team. "I've watched a lot of the games and I've looked up the players and I've had discussions with Lee with regards to the players. It's clear that there's going to need to be changes to be made, but I'm not going to put all my eggs in one basket straight away. I'm going to get my time to look at the roster, look at players, and understand maybe why the results haven't been maybe what they should have been. I had the exact same experience when I come up to Liverpool 3 years ago. It's something I'm ready to do in Boston, I'm looking forward to doing."
"As a coach I want to have the best players possible," Beard said of his philosophy on building a roster. "And the recruitment process with Lee and the club, we will work as hard as we can to bring the right players to the club. I think the most important thing as a coach is that you get the right balance within your team, so players that can complement each other because different players have different skills and you need different players to do different jobs."
The transition from FA WSL to NWSL won't be a complete shock to the system for Beard. "I followed the league quite closely over the last two years because Mark Parsons worked for me at Chelsea, who's the Washington Spirit manager. And of course direct competition with Laura [Harvey] when she was at Arsenal and I was at Chelsea. So I've taken a keen interest, and also from a player recruitment point of view as the Liverpool manager."
When asked if the differences in ex-head coach Tom Durkin's professional resume and Beard's experience were by design, Billiard said, "I think Tom's got a tremendous soccer brain as well. Similar to Matt. They both have similar philosophies in how they want to play the game. And those are philosophies that we love. We want our teams to play attractive soccer. I think Matt's experience comes a lot more in terms of having the female experience, being coaching in the women's game for a lot longer. Tom was fairly new to that. There's always that psychological aspect to that I think."
Beard will finish out the season with Liverpool but has already begun preparing for 2016. "I think it's a great challenge for me because I've worked in the top flight in England for 11 seasons, he said, "And for me and my family I think it's a good opportunity, and I think it's going to be a good challenge for me to improve myself as a coach."