Dan O'Hearne discusses the winter break, new players and the relationship with the club.
Leeds United Women will play their first fixture of 2020 on Sunday 12th January when they take on Liverpool Feds in the FA Women’s National League Division One North.
The game will take place at Jericho Lane Hub in Liverpool and kick-off is scheduled for 2pm.
The first team are currently second in the league table having played 10 games of their 2019/20 season, whilst Liverpool Feds sit in fourth place with a game in hand.
We caught up with manager Dan O’Hearne over the Christmas break to chat about new signings, training and improving the team.
Have the players been training over the festive period?
“We’ve had a shorter break this Christmas, usually it can be quite long with the lack of games but we wanted to keep the group in and training which will hopefully help us in the second half of the season. We’ve made training more intense as well and I think because we started pre season earlier, we did 10 weeks instead of seven, I think that has helped us a lot and now it’s about maintaining our standards.
"Last season it was very much about stability and what we didn’t manage to do was get that consistency with our results but this season we’re getting that bit of consistency that was needed. We made quite a lot of signings over the summer and it was all about getting the right people in and making sure we were bringing in better players that would make us more competitive.”
You made some more new signings recently, what kind of impact can they have?
We made three new signings before Christmas and so we are obviously hoping that they will help to improve the team for the rest of the season, I think healthy competition within the squad helps to bring the best out of players. We were probably lacking an out and out goalscorer so we brought in Millie Kenyon, a striker that I had at Sheffield United and she has already had an impact, scoring five goals in her first three games for us.
Can it sometimes be difficult to bring the best players in?
“In this area there are a lot of teams in the same league vying for those quality players. I think the fact that we are Leeds United is a massive pull for any player so that puts us in a good position. It’s been a bit of a rebuilding process over the last few years and getting up the league is so tough with only one promotion spot available in our league so you have to stay consistent throughout the entire season. If you’re the best team then you will come first by the end of the season.
Have you seen a change in the quality of players in the WNL?
I’ve been in women’s football for seven years now and I think the quality of players and football is definitely getting better at the lower levels. There is better coaching now and more dedication, all we can do is get as much contact time with our players as possible and try and improve them, hoping that they learn and develop.
How important is it to have a close relationship with the club?
It’s massive for us. You only have to look at the facilities we now have access to, we are training and playing at Thorp Arch where we have use of the gym, nutritional information, strength and conditioning, the grass pitches and the indoor pitch that can be used if the weather is bad. We’ve definitely got the support and set up in place that could help us if we’re able to get up the leagues.