WSL Preview: Birmingham City

It is that time of year again that strikes fear into the  heart of every football fan. That’s right folks the transfer window is open! Well actually it has been open for a while but now the World Cup is over we can get excited about it, or run and head under the bed in dread. However you wish to deal with it.

Transfer Window definition. Noun: a period of time where your club can get rid of deadwood and bring in fresh new talent.

Actual definition: your club makes some dicey new signings in a panic on the final day and you pray they don’t get rid of the players who name is on your new £80 shirt. (standard practice for West Ham’s men’s team until recently).

In the Women’s league, it can be a little less dramatic, though ask any Birmingham City fans if their window has been smooth sailing. The response may result in you getting hit in the face with a pikelet. {Pikelet -Noun: – A crumpet or crumpet-like bread in areas of Great Britain}

Unlike in the male leagues, our players in our league don’t move around for the big bucks. Spoiler alert, it’s because there isn’t any. Players move for other prized aspects of the game instead: Game time, fellow teammates, playing for the club you’ve always supported or the prestige of playing European football.

The point of this post is to run down what the In’s and Outs, and how all this is going to shake up the league. Next up is the afformentioned Birmingham City.

The question on every FAWSL fan’s mind is will Birmingham even be able to field a 5 a side team this year? Never mind a full squad! Before I feel the wrath of the now rather empty Solihull faithful. I am not mocking the situation. My heart bleeds for them as I always had a soft spot for Birmingham. Over the years they have produced some of the greatest players in this game has ever seen with the likes Laura Bassett and Kaz Carney to name a few coming up the ranks of the Bluenoses.

In terms of additions, there really aren’t many we can talk about. One piece of good news for the Birmingham Blues is Rach Williams has re-signed for another year. A stalwart in the Birmingham side she will be back from her knee injury sustained in last year’s preseason. Which is good news as she appears to be one of the only backline players to stay.

New players include Abbi Grant and Rebecca Holloway. Holloway having just finished a shift with the Nashville Rhythm where she was a standout for them. This will be Grant’s first stint in the English leagues having been a mainstay of the Scottish leagues for the last few years.

However, I am very jealous as Birmingham won the fight for one of my player, Brianna Visalli, our former number 15 who was unceremoniously let go by the Hammers has signed for the Blues. Seriously you guys have a brilliant little midfielder who will graft hard for you. Generous in both her time and spirit. Treat her well Birmingham, treat her well!

Staniforth embracing her inner Shearer after scoring for England. Photo from @LStan37

Will the Blues be able to retain the services of the Lionesses’ hero Lucy Staniforth?

The mass exodus from Birmingham seems to be likened to that of Liverpool last season where the manager allowed 13 player’s contracts to expire. The answer to Liverpool’s problem was to get a brand new manager.

Birmingham has already done this halfway through last season. Marc Skinner got an offer he couldn’t refuse, managing Orlando Pride.  He might now have wished he hadn’t bothered with the current record of 9 losses to three wins.

The new manager does not seem popular, though is effective. Having finished fourth, their highest position in a while things seemed to be on the up. She does not seem to be well-liked by the players from the few I have spoken. Caveat being I have not spoken to that many, this also does not include Ellen White who I spoke to about coach travel i.e how she made me miss mine.

Speaking of Ellen White, she became Birmingham’s first big loss. As moments after thanking her club for her time there, she announced her move to another City. This time the girls in Sky Blue at Manchester City. This move will delight many Man City as White is a proven clinical striker which they have been sorely missing. Also a proven bargain as they managed to grab her before her sensational World Cup. Shrewd bit of business there Mr. Cushing.

Another unexpected but huge loss for the club was Aoife Mannion. The young defender has been a much-loved figure for the last six years. You would be hard-pressed to find a blue nose twitter account which wasn’t involved in the get Mannion a call-up campaign. Maybe this is what factored in her decision to follow White to Man City. After all the last World Cup campaign had seven players representing England from the club and countless former players also. If Neville only bothers to go watch the ’top three’ then you have to be in it to win it.

Paige Williams also announced she was refused her new contract but has yet to announce where she is going to. Another player you felt would play out her career with the team.

Marisa Ewers left to go one step down into the Championship to play for midlands rivals Aston Villa. Whilst taking a step down for the former German International seemed like an odd move. The added responsibility of being the team analysis and operations manager seems this is paving her post-football career. I

Ewers is also joined at St Michael’s by Shania Hayles who has already made her mark there, by scoring against Stoke in a pre-season friendly. Hayles was wasted at Birmingham and it appears she is making up for lost time with Villa.

Hayley Ladd turned down a new contract with the Blues in favour of going further north to the Red Devils. The defender who a was key piece to Birmingham’s backline will be hard to replace, it will also be interesting to see how she fits in the Manchester United formation. This could be another Jen Beattie situation of swapping to a team for significantly less playing time, something tells me that the situation in the Birmingham dressing room might warrant such a change.

Lucy Quinn is another bright young player who is decided to move on from Solihull. Taking a chance on the newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur having had a breakout season last year will no doubt be a permanent fixture in the Spurs squad this year.

The final two major losses are Charlie Wellings and Meaghan Sargent.  Both left on the same day and both have gone to another B.C the southwest called and the pair are now Vixens. Or Robbins. Whatever Bristol City want to call themselves these days.

Wellings another top goal scorer for the Blues who after White was their most dangerous player going forward. Sargent was another brick in their wall of defence, a solid and consistent performer last season.

For fans of the WSL, it’s going to be interesting to see how Birmingham regroup. Especially defensively.

One piece of luck is they have managed to keep Hannah Hampton their wonder kid goalkeeper who stepped up when they lost their first team goalkeeper to Chelsea back in January. This is even better news as it would appear their back goalkeeper was a bit of a panic buy towards the end of the last window. See kids pressure does crazy things to us all.

A last minute loss that’s come to light is Emma Follis. After her contract extension, this season seemed to be a done deal. It was announced that she was yet another blue to add a little bit of claret as well off to the other side of the city she goes.

Predicted League Finish: Undecided. My heart wants to say a solid 8th, just like Liverpool last year. My head says they will be in a relegation battle, I genuinely wish them well.

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