In an exclusive interview with The Offside Rule: WSL Edition, Matt Beard tells us the details of his unexpected move away from West Ham United and what role might be next on the cards, writes Jessy Parker Humphreys.
The Women’s Super League was rocked last week by surprise managerial departures at both West Ham and Tottenham.
On Thursday, West Ham announced that Matt Beard would leave the club by mutual consent. Beard had managed the club for the duration of their time in the Women’s Super League, but this season, results had been mixed, with just one win in the first seven games.
“To cut a long story short, I felt like I needed a change and I think the club needed a change as well,” said Beard, speaking exclusively to The Offside Rule: WSL Edition for the first time since his departure.
“The results at the start of the season obviously weren’t as we anticipated or expected. We had a little bit of bad luck with personnel at the start of the season, which didn’t help.
“There were numerous things really – there wasn’t just one thing specifically.
“I had a good chat with Jack [Sullivan – managing director of West Ham Women] after the Brighton game. We met on Tuesday and sat down and spoke face to face, and we decided that it was best that I move on.”
Beard felt that, despite the team playing better than the results suggested, it was simply time for a change.
“I thought we were just turning a corner,” he explained. “Our performances were good. If you look at the Brighton game, we could have won that by four or five given the amount of chances we missed on the day.
“But I just felt that after the meetings and conversations over the last month, I felt maybe I wanted to go in a different direction to the one the football club wanted.
“I’ve not got a bad word to say about the club, but I guess just from the conversations I’ve had over the past two or three weeks, and on top of that the way the season has started, I felt that was the best for everyone.”
The curtailment of last season due to COVID-19 was particularly hard for Beard to take.
“I’m disappointed we never got to see last season out,” he said.
“We had some really winnable games in the back end of that season. For me, it was frustrating… because everything had started to click into place.”
The undoubted highlight of Beard’s time at West Ham was leading them to the FA Cup Final in his first season in charge.
“If you look at that first year…our ambition was to be safe by Christmas, and then we could put all our energy into the FA Cup.
“That’s a collective decision we made as management, and as a club.”
Despite losing 3-0 to Manchester City, Beard felt that it demonstrated the power of a common aim.
“It’s just interesting really when everyone sets a goal and puts their mind to it. It was a big eye-opener.”
Whilst Tottenham had already lined up a replacement for Karen Hills and Juan Amoros in Rehanne Skinner, West Ham’s managerial vacancy is still open. When asked whether he thought that was a disadvantage, Beard was not concerned.
“No, not really. Billy [Stewart – interim manager] is a very knowledgeable man. He’s worked at the top level of the game.
“It’d be great if he could get the job,” continued Beard. “I think that would give the players and the club a little bit of consistency.”
Meanwhile, Beard is unlikely to be short of suitors given his managerial CV, which includes Chelsea and Boston Breakers, as well as having led Liverpool to back-to-back WSL titles in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“This is probably the biggest risk I’ve taken in my life. I’ve left my job in a global pandemic. It’s a massive risk.
“In the short term, I really want to put my energy into the family, but I don’t want to be out of work a long time.”
Asked whether we might see him make a return Stateside, where there are currently some prominent managerial vacancies, Beard was non-committal.
“My door is open and I’m willing to listen. I’m not going to shut the door whether it’s abroad or whether it’s in England.
“I’ll keep my door open and listen to what’s available.”
Follow Jessy on Twitter @jessyjph