This is review based on what was expected at the beginning of the season. Rating A way above expectation B above expectation C as expected D below expectation E way below expectation.
Let’s start with the 2 teams way below expectation :
E for Chelsea Ladies who started the season with a lot of new foreign signing and a team with a certain number of players expected to train on daily basis supplementing those who train twice a week after a work. It clearly failed, the team never seemed to gel properly and the second half of the season saw the introduction on more homegrown players and all but one foreign players gone. Finishing 7th is poor for Chelsea Ladies.
E for Lincoln Ladies a team with a big budget and boasting 4 England international stars. Things clearly went wrong as they spend nearly all season fighting with the Doncaster Belles for the bottom place. 6th place is poor as well. They are in the conti cup final and might win a trophy before moving to a new team Notts County Ladies.
D for Birmingham City Ladies following 2 seasons competing for the Champions League place, Birmingham City went the youth way by playing many young girls throughout the season and that investment might pay off in the next seasons especially if senior players leave during the winter window. 4th place is disappointing but reflect their season quite well. Best team of the chasing pack.
D for Arsenal Ladies. Finishing outside top 2 is indeed a failure and clearly missed the champions league target.
Although it has to be said that the 3 points deducted cost Arsenal a Champions League place and 2 home 0-0 draw cost them the title while they were in the driving seat. Next season will be tough with the rebuilding of a side and no champions league to offer to tempt players during the winter window. The big question is how many players will retire and how many will leave.
C for Doncaster Belles who finished at the bottom of the table as expected. The fact that the FA relegated them after 1 game will leave a bitter taste and was clearly a huge mistake to announce so early in the season. They did battle well and hard for the 14 games. Big respect for John Buckley and his girls to keep such a fight in difficult conditions.
C for Everton Ladies who lost many players during the winter and change manager as well with Marley leaving. Andy Spence rebuilt a side and included a lot of homegrown players and credit to him to give them all a chance. They finished a creditable 5th as they clearly lacked experience and forepower at time. But the future will be great for that group of young players.
B for Liverpool Ladies winning the title for the 1st time ever after finishing bottom in the 2 previous season. They managed to do as expected ie qualify for the champions league and do one better by winning the title. Congratulations to the new champions. Matt Beard did well to make his team gel by nearly never changing his starting 11 except the goalkeepers and it was a winning formula as they only lost 2 games and won 12 out of 14.
A for Bristol Academy because when they lost the player of the year Jess Fishlock before the season started they simply were destined for the bottom half according to all the predictions including mine. They had an exceptional season and were rewarded with a 2nd place and champions league football. They worked hard and entertained everybody with the attacking football and hopefully will go further away this time that a couple season ago when they got 4 UEFA points only.
Overall a very entertaining season with the final table :
1. Liverpool Ladies
2. Bristol Academy
3. Arsenal Ladies
4. Birmingham City Ladies
5. Everton Ladies
6. Lincoln Ladies
7. Chelsea Ladies
8. Doncaster Rover Belles.
The FA WSL 2014 will see 2 new franchises arrive in Division 1 : Manchester City Ladies and Notts County Ladies that will replace the Belles and Lincoln Ladies. The Belles will play in WSL 2 while Lincoln Ladies will disappear.