Liverpool Women manager Matt Beard has hit back at criticism of defender Gilly Flaherty and says he’ll stick up for his players.
The 31-year-old joined the Reds back in the summer and was Beard’s second signing of the window. She’s started all of their Women’s Super League matches so far, but it’s been a turbulent start to the campaign for the team.
Liverpool currently sit 10th in the table, unable to build on their shock win over current champions Chelsea in their opening game. They were without a point in five consecutive games before they came from 3-1 down to snatch a draw against Brighton last time out.
Flaherty has been subjected to criticism from some supporters on social media and the former West Ham star has previously voiced her disappointment at the comments, before deleting her Twitter account entirely.
“Joining a new team is hard in the first place,” she wrote last month. “But to not be approved of by the fans and to just get slaughtered on social media after most games by your own fans is (heartbreaking). I’ve never cared about opposition fans doing it, but when it’s your own fans it hits on another level.”
Following the draw against Brighton over the weekend, one supporter’s comments, which have since been deleted, prompted a response from Beard, who invited the fan to their training base at Tranmere’s Solar Campus.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday night’s WSL meeting with Reading, the Liverpool boss described the criticism of Flaherty as unjust and says it won’t be tolerated when it becomes personal.
“The first thing, it wasn’t critical, it was personal was the way that I read it,” he said. “It’s not an isolated incident. I’ll stick up for any of my players, I treat my players like they’re my own. I felt it was unjust.
“The performance of Gilly on Sunday was probably her best performance in a Liverpool shirt. If I go back to that tackle that she made on Katie Robinson, I think it was at 3-2 if my memory serves me right, that was just as important as Furness’ equaliser because, if she doesn’t make that tackle, potentially it’s 4-2.
“People are entitled to their opinion, I’ve not got a problem with that. We’re in a position where we are in the public eye. But, when it becomes personal, I don’t think that should be tolerated.
He continued: “If someone is prepared to type it, we want to give him the opportunity to come and say it. We all work incredibly…