It was a whirlwind first official day for the England youth coach, who fulfilled media and photography duties with external press at Belvoir Drive, the team’s impressive training venue and headquarters, while also getting to work on building plans for the beginning of her tenure.
Previously coaching in club football for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and London Bees, before working her way up the youth age groups in England Women’s coaching setup, Bedford feels she has garnered a well-rounded knowledge of the professional women’s game.
Sitting down with LCFC TV on Monday, she spoke about why it was such an attractive proposition to join LCFC Women following their promotion to the top-flight last season.
“It’s a really exciting project,” Bedford commented in her first interview since starting her new role. “Today’s the first day but I was able to come in last week and observe the team and the staff, which has been a great start for me.
Bedford takes charge at LCFC Women with extensive experience at the Football Association.
“It’s such a great opportunity and I’m just looking forward to getting going with the girls and working hard to get us out of this relegation battle and make sure that we stay in the WSL where we belong.
“The facilities speak for themselves. They are one of the best in the WSL and certainly being here last week and seeing that we’ve got grass pitches that we can get out on at whatever time and facilities that are our own to use is a fantastic asset for any coach working with players.
“My early experiences were in club football before it was professional. My first full-time job was with the Football Association, and I’ve had seven years of experience as a result of that.
“I think now this is an opportunity to go back to club football at a time when the game is professional and hopefully I can bring the experiences from pre-professional and take it into what is now a really attractive league and help the team within that.”
Bedford has a wealth of experience coaching England Women's youth teams.
She arrives with all the tools to make a success of her first managerial role in the top division and told LCFC TV that she is excited by the challenge, with a clear target in place to meet at the end of the season.
While there is a determination from the new manager to apply her principles, she acknowledges that there may be a need to adapt in order to reach their goals.
“I think the opportunity to come from international into club football and drive the team and help them to get past this battle is a real selling point for me,” she explained. “I want to test myself at the highest level - and this is it - so it’s a great opportunity to do that.
“The priority is surviving relegation and helping the team to be best prepared to do that. But as a coach, I love the game to be played with the ball at our feet and I want to see the girls show real confidence in their build-up play.
“But we’ve got to be realistic. We’re out to win games and we’ll be assessing every opponent and making sure we’ve got the best game plan in place to allow us to do that.”
She joins the Foxes eight games into the Barclays FA Women's Super League campaign.
Having already met some of the staff and players last week, observing training and watching on at Leigh Sports Village as the Foxes secured a penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in the Continental Tyres League Cup, Bedford is aiming to hit the ground running.
Given the position that the team currently find themselves in after eight games of their maiden WSL campaign, there is little time to waste in order to try and push up the table, but it will be no easy task first up, with a trip to Arsenal awaiting on Sunday evening.
Bedford continued: “It was brilliant for the girls (to win on penalties at Man Utd) and I think they really deserved it. It’s been coming in the games that I’ve watched up this point. They were really resilient in their performance and the way that they set up really frustrated Man Utd throughout the game.
“Credit to the hard work they put in to last through the 90 minutes and creating two goalscoring opportunities is great for this team and will give the girls real confidence going into the rest of the league games.
Lydia is regarded as one of the most highly rated, progressive young coaches in the women's game.
“Confidence is brilliant, it’s what the team needs right now. Obviously, Arsenal are of a very similar calibre to Man Utd, if not better at times, so what we’ve achieved in the last few games will really help in their preparation for Sunday. We firmly have eyes fixed on Arsenal at the weekend and getting on the grass tomorrow to be prepared for that is the focus.
“You’ve got to relish those opportunities as a coach and the girls have got the right mentality building towards it. We’ll be as best prepared as we possibly can and if they can bring the resilience they showed against Man Utd, I’m confident that they’ll work hard and get what they deserve.”
Arriving at the Club alongside Bedford is Brent Hills, a coach offering extensive experience in the women’s game following a number of years serving as Hope Powell’s England Women’s senior team assistant.
Having already established a working relationship with Hills at the FA, the 34-year-old is confident that he will add a huge amount to the coaching team. He is not the only familiar face, though, with Bedford coaching several of City’s first team squad during their time as England youth internationals.
The 34-year-old is relishing the challenge ahead.
“Brent’s CV speaks for itself,” Bedford added. “He’s someone who has mentored me for a number of years so I wanted someone alongside me who would really have my back and fight my corner and support me on this journey over the next six months.
“Brent will bring that experience every day, on the pitch and off the pitch. His ability to relate to players and people and drive the standards of the environment through his experience is going to be really critical to us at this time.
“I've already got a previous connection to some of the girls, I was speaking to Ash (Ashleigh Plumptre) the other day about when we went out to Iceland for her Under-17s finals.
“I’ve had a connection with lots of them at some point and I think that helps. I’m a reasonably familiar face and it’s important that I can build relationships quickly so that we can get together on the grass and work hard, so that’s helpful.”
Watch Lydia Bedford first home game in charge of LCFC Women when they face Manchester City at Pirelli Stadium in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup on Wednesday 15 December. Tickets are available HERE.
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