Since the FA Women’s Super League formed in 2011, two things have occurred in the opening campaigns - Arsenal Ladies have won the league, and Liverpool Ladies have won the wooden spoon.
It’s been a nightmare couple of seasons for the Merseysiders, who have won two of their 28 fixtures over the two WSL seasons, with a goal difference of -36.
It was always going to be tough for the Reds, who jumped from the Premier League North division (Third tier of English football) into the Super League, when applications were being taken for the newly formed semi-professional competition.
Liverpool, unlike rivals Everton Ladies, were very much a yo-yo club in the years leading up to the WSL, shifting between the Premier League North and National division.
But following a torrid couple of years and a change of manager midway through the second Super League campaign, there appears to be a sense of optimism within the red half of Merseyside that would suggest they will be anything but basement battlers next year.
New manager Matt Beard, who joined the club in August after leaving Chelsea a month earlier, made his intentions clear at the start of the off-season after releasing ten first team players from the club.
This included twins Vicky and Kelly Jones, who have subsequently joined neighbours Everton, and internationals Aroon Clancey (New Zealand) and Emily Gielnik (Australia).
What will be encouraging for Reds fans and neutrals, of which there are plenty, is the players Beard has worked hard to bring to the club.
US international Whitney Engen will become the first American to grace the English league after Liverpool acquired her services in October, bringing experience and qualities to a defence that has leaked more goals than anyone else in the league.
Engen began her Reds career alongside a new centre back partner in the shape of former Chelsea defender, Gemma Bonner. The 21-year-old England international was a key piece of the Blues’ puzzle last year, which saw them reach a dramatic FA Cup final – which they eventually lost on penalties to Birmingham Ladies.
Bonner is one of the most promising defenders in the country and, alongside Engen, will give solid protection in front of impressive young keeper, Sarah Quantrill, another Beard signing from Chelsea.
Undoubtedly Liverpool’s biggest transfer coup is one that even Brendan Rodgers would be envious of, and will also put a dent into a major rival’s plans. Last month, the Reds were able to raid their Merseyside neighbours in blue to swoop for trio Lucy Bronze, Tash Dowie and England star Fara Williams. Bronze, an England Under-23 international, and Dowie, niece of Ian Dowie and another with England caps, will both add much needed quality to what is at the moment a paper thin squad.
But it is the signing of Williams, one of England’s most coveted players, which had those in the women’s game taking notice of Liverpool’s ambitions.
Williams has over 100 caps for her country and has played in two World Cups – she was also Everton’s top scorer last season. The former Fulham midfielder admitted recently that her performances had “dipped” of late, and that she needed a new challenge. There is no doubt she is the signing that makes the biggest statement from Liverpool, but the fascinating thing is, there’s likely to be plenty more to come.
Just this week the Reds announced they had captured Sweden International Louise Fors, with the signing coming hot on the heels of Germany Under-20 international, Nicole Rolser, who was part of the recent German team that finished runners-up in this year’s Under-20 World Cup.
Liverpool are clearly fed up of propping up the league, and the signings they’ve made so far should ensure they aren’t down there again. With the investment injected into the Ladies squad, the club will no doubt be looking for a return that justifies the support shown to manager Beard, and with this, will come an expectation and some pressure.
However, don’t be surprised if we see Liverpool fighting at the right end of the table, and, maybe even challenge their blue rivals for bragging rights on Merseyside.
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.