- Willie Kirk speaks after becoming LCFC Women manager
- Kirk has managerial experience in the Barclays Women’s Super League with Everton and Bristol City
- The Club is keen to find the right chemistry to produce a winning team, Kirk told LCFC TV
Following the departure of Lydia Bedford, managerial responsibilities were handed over permanently to Kirk, who transitioned from the Club’s former Director of Football, Women & Girls earlier in November.
For the last three months, Kirk’s role has been to develop and deliver strategies for the continued growth of women’s & girl’s football at Leicester City, while also having a responsibility in producing a successful environment at Belvoir Drive, to enable sustained growth and stability for the first team.
As he transitions back to a familiar role on the touchline, Kirk brings with him an abundance of experience, having previously secured promotion to the WSL with Bristol City Women, before reaching the final of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup with Everton Women in 2020.
Currently sitting at the foot of the WSL, the new manager takes control at a crucial point in the 2022/23 season but is confident in the Foxes' ability to turn performances around and add points to the standings.
In a first interview since taking the helm, Kirk outlined his thoughts to LCFC TV: “It’s not what I expected following my first game at the Club, but I’m professionally really excited by it.
Willie Kirk on the touchline during his first game in charge, against Arsenal at King Power Stadium.
“The Club and the team have got so much potential, and we’ve got to unlock that now and really utilise the facilities we’ve got here, which are second to none. It’s time to give the Club something back, because how they’ve supported myself and the women’s programme is fantastic.”
He continued: “I would much rather be in this position than coming in completely cold, especially when you do come in during the season and need to get up and running as quickly as possible.
“So, the fact I know how things have been working, and player’s strengths and weaknesses from seeing them up close really helps. Normally you get an idea of how players perform, but you never get to see behind the scenes and I’m fortunate to say I could during the last three months.
“It’s certainly kept the players on their toes, asking themselves ‘Have I impressed? Has he [Kirk] already formed an opinion?’ I don’t think I’ve developed a strong opinion on anybody, but already knowing the set-up will certainly help going forward.”
Having already been involved within the Club’s set-up has made for an easier transition, says the new manager, but his experience in similar scenarios, will bring its own wealth to the table.
“I’m very confident [LCFC Women can turn things around], I know we’ve got a very robust and well thought-through points target, so we’re confident it will not just allow us to survive but place us in a positive position. We’re looking to improve significantly on last year’s total.
It’s important for us to get a winning first team, but to get a winning first team with Leicester’s home-grown players would be even better.Willie Kirk LCFC TV
“I think it’s important that the players have been through it before, and I’ve certainly been through it.
“I hope in the immediate long-term, that one of the reasons behind my appointment wasn’t just to keep this Club in the league but to build on that, and really start pushing into a place we feel the Club should be based on resources that we get to utilise every day."
Posing as a key figure in the team’s development at Belvoir Drive during the time in his previous position, the former Hibernian Women’s manager is keen to keep the training ground’s strong influence on the team.
He explained: “The training facility is the best there is. There’s nothing we’re ever wanting for, it’s got absolutely everything on our doorstep, so I think that can help massively.
“Based on my previous experiences, I’m certain it’s easier to add quality to a good infrastructure rather than a good infrastructure to good quality. That’s something we’ve got with this great base to build on, and I think the facilities, if you’re utilising them properly, can have huge performance gains.”
The Scotsman spoke about his ambition with the Foxes, but also how closely intertwined that lies with the aim of developing the Academy system.
The manager watches closely during a LCFC Women training session at Belvoir Drive.
“There’s a lot of good youngsters here and a lot of much needed experience as well,” Kirk said. “When I look back to the summer, and the players that came in, I think they’ve added a lot in terms of culture and we’re hoping that helps us going forward.
“We’ve got a lot of real good WSL experience, and international caps within the squad as well. Hopefully we can pull all of that together and find the right chemistry to get a winning team on the park.
“My history at previous clubs, whether that be Hibernian, Bristol City or Everton, I think I’ve always had a keen interest in the pathways.
“I’ve always had players come through that pathway and gave opportunities to them. It’s important to create an environment where youth can thrive, and in the past, I’ve probably lost most of the developing talent to bigger clubs, but hopefully our ambitions here will align with those young players.
“It’s important for us to get a winning first team, but to get a winning first team with Leicester’s home-grown players would be even better.
“That would put us in a good position but also gives something back to the community, inspiring the next group of girls, and hopefully the next England superstar that comes out of the county.”
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