With the women’s football world focused on international competitions and the exploits of the Lionesses dominating the English women’s football discussion, it’s easy to forget that for many teams preseason has already begun and the Barclay’s Women’s Championship season begins in just under a month! With that in mind, Paul Wheeler spoke to Coventry United owner Lewis Taylor, who has overseen a lot of change at the club so far this summer, to get an update on how they were dealing with a shift to a part-time model and a change behind the bench.
It’s been a busy summer after the Great Escape in Coventry, with major changes taking place in a move back to a part-time model and the departure of a large proportion of the off-pitch staff who performed so brilliantly and captured the hearts of the football world. Manager Jay Bradford has departed along with first team head coach Jo Potter and assistant manager Katie Rowson and key players from last season Olivia Clark and the heroine of Watford, Mollie Green, and this combined with the lack of news coming out of the club with regards to new signings has meant that some questions have been asked about how the club can build on the last-day heroics of last season. With preseason underway, we decided that it was time for some insight from owner Lewis Taylor as he works to prepare for his first full season as the club’s owner – and when we approached him he was happy to give some much-needed updates on how the Red and Greens are preparing for the new season…starting with some insight in the process of just what sort of club Coventry United will be this season after the announcement that they were going back to part time, and what changes will be being made at the club to go back to a full-time structure in the future:
In reality, we’re moving to a hybrid model as we still have some contracted players from last season that we’re looking forward to working with, plus some new PT contracts to move forward with. In reality, last season’s schedule wasn’t properly full time with only 3 days training plus a match day. When we return to a proper full time set up, it will be with a true professional structure behind the scenes and a true full time set up to properly challenge.
One of the biggest challenges isn’t really in moving the model to be honest, there are some very good players who want to come and play for us. The biggest challenge of the last couple of weeks is in the off pitch compliance which then echoes the need for a more professional structure which is exactly what we’re doing.
With regards to perhaps the biggest question this off-season, that of who will be behind the Red & Greens’ bench, Lewis is upbeat, while also hinting at further changes within the organisational structure and the appointment of a General Manager:
The search is going very well and an announcement is imminent. It’s important we make the right appointment and our new GM, whilst not starting until 1st August, has been extremely helpful in the process so far.
Several key players have bid farewell to the Butts Park Arena this season, and with Coventry being quiet on returning players and squad announcements, the next question was with regard to recruitment, and Lewis says that this is progressing behind the scenes the same as any other season.
Some players are staying as per their longer term contracts, others have agreed to sign part time and some are going part time but also taking up some very valuable roles within the club in a Community Development role. There’s no one size fits all and we’re working with all players to find the right fit for them. Of course some players were out of contract and have also decided to move on which is part of football and we’ll be rooting for them too.
He also tells us that the lack of an announced manager hasn’t been the hindrance some might think in attracting signings:
Obviously the question is asked, but players coming in have been very happy to do so based on the club’s ambitions and trusts the fact that we’re doing good things off the pitch.
And finally, as some teams are already in preseason fixtures in the FAWC, Lewis was keen to emphasise that while on the outside Coventry’s preparation may seem to be behind other BWC clubs at this point, there is confidence that it won’t have a long term impact on the Red & Greens’ chances in 2022/23
The reality is we’re starting 2 weeks later than planned, however we trust that all players have been keeping themselves in great shape and we still have 4 friendlies booked in to play. We’re confident that we’ll be competitive at every game this season. We’ll always find a way.
Based on these answers, it seems Coventry United, while perhaps having a slightly unconventional appearance to their preseason business publicly, are privately moving along nicely as they prepare for a season where they’ll try and build on the momentum of one of football’s greatest ever escapes in 21/22. With a new GM and manager to be announced shortly and a full squad to be confirmed, it’s certainly going to be a busy few weeks at the Butts Park Arena…and hopefully a season that can be a springboard for women’s football’s profile in the city of Coventry off the back of the Women’s Euros and the team’s incredible exploits last season, too.