If you’re a fan of Everton Ladies FC, or simply follow the women’s game as a neutral, you’ll have no doubt seen a fair bit of activity at the Crosby based club that has seen a number of faces come and go during the close season.
What’s worse for Blues fans, is that three of those faces have gone onto join the red side of Merseyside, with rivals Liverpool making a number of high profile signings that they hope will see them improve on a Women’s Super League record of two wins in 28 matches.
Add to this the departure of long serving manager Mo Marley, who has decided to focus on her duties within the England setup, and you could forgive Blues fans for feeling a little pessimistic.
However, the Blues recently saw 12 first team squad members commit themselves to the club for the 2013 WSL season, with the likes of England internationals Rachel Brown and Jill Scott undeniably the highest profile of the dozen.
Another one of the 12 to show her loyalty to the Blues is young defender Alex Greenwood, who had her breakout season at the club in 2012 and fully established herself as a key member of the Toffees first eleven.
When England international Rachel Unitt decided to move back to the West Midlands and join Birmingham City Ladies, 19-year-old left-back Greenwood grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and hasn’t looked back since.
“When Rachel left, I thought this was my time and an opportunity to impress,” she said.
“I’m left-footed and can play that position, so I really wanted to make that position my own.”
Not only did Greenwood beat off competition from within the squad to become first choice in her position, but she would impress so much that she would be voted the FA Young Player of the Year at the FA Women’s Football Awards in November.
“In my first full season I really didn’t expect to win an award,” she modestly confesses.
“I thought to myself ‘what have I done to win this’, but the manager said I deserved it, so I was obviously really pleased.”
A promising start then for the talented youngster, but since kicking her last ball of the 2012 season, Greenwood has had to watch the club’s rivals bolster their ranks with internationals from here and abroad, and come to terms with her own team losing some of their most experienced players.
Tash Dowie, Lucy Bronze and fans favourite, Fara Williams, all packed their belongings and joined Liverpool Ladies as Reds manager Matt Beard looks to elevate his side up the table following two seasons that saw them finish bottom of the pile.
“It was a big surprise to lose the girls, especially Tash and Lucy, as I thought they had a few years left in them here.
“I know Fara was looking for a new challenge as she’s achieved everything and more - its disappointing to lose them all to Liverpool, but I guess it gave them the chance to stay local.”
Despite the loss of the popular trio, the defender is unfazed, and with a youth system that has produced the likes of Toni Duggan, Michelle Hinnigan and Greenwood herself, she believes there is a bright future ahead for Everton.
“Everyone is massively excited for the future and with a young squad and new manager (Andy Spence), there is plenty to look forward to.
“Andy is underestimated and while I was gutted to see Mo leave, I am made up that he got the job – he and Mo are the reasons why I am here now.”
The Liverpool born left-back admits that Everton had a below par season in 2012 and stated that the side need to install “the fear factor” back into teams visiting The Arriva Stadium, and she is hopeful that this can commence in 2013, especially against her old teammates at Liverpool.
“Consistency was a problem for us last season and teams would play against us thinking they could get something from the game.
“We need to get that fear factor back as the quality in the WSL is improving, but its good for the league and I cant wait to play against the likes of Liverpool - it’s going to be really exciting.”
Kieran Theivam is a former journalist and follower of women's football. His blog can be found here and he can be followed on Twitter here.