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The one-on-one coaching specialist helping LFC Women's stars realise their potential

By Charles Cornwall

The one-on-one coaching specialist helping LFC Women's stars realise their potential

Having worked in the Peruvian capital Lima, Canada and all across the United States.

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Paul McHugh signed on as assistant manager of Liverpool FC Women ahead of the 2021-22 season, second to his old friend Matt Beard to lead a Reds side that had just finished 11 points off the pace in the FA Women's Championship to climb out of the second tier and back into the Barclays Women's Super League.

LFC Women stamped their authority on the entire Championship campaign to turn that 11-point margin around and win the league with two games to spare, but they did so thanks to a series of hard-fought victories and late goals - such as Jasmine Matthews' header at Charlton Athletic in March - that took the already impressive team spirit within the group to another level.

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It was the intellect and astuteness of a coaching staff - led by coach Beard and his two assistants McHugh and Amber Whiteley - who used modern analytics to their advantage and always seemed to know the right thing to say at the right time.

McHugh made only one appearance in the documentary, but the moment captures him doing what he loves best: individual coaching, in this case with last season's top scorer, prolific Irish striker Leanne Kiernan.

McHugh's words

“I like that type of coaching because it’s more personal,” the former Newcastle United youth coach tells. What I say to the players is: ‘I’m here to help you but if you want to do something specific, think about it, we’ll talk about it and we’ll come up with a session to get the best possible outcome."

“It could be Leanne, Missy Bo [Kearns], Razza [Rhiannon Roberts], I don’t mind, I’m just here to make them all better players. And if Matt, myself or Amber can make them better players, then that helps the team. It gives everybody a clear idea how we’re going to play in and out of possession, and in transition.

“The players and the staff were all so close last season, we had that relationship with them and there was no animosity. The players that we brought in fitted in straight away, which is thanks to the players who were already there, and the staff as well.

“We had a plan and we stuck to it the whole way through the season and got that final reward. People say it was a breeze for us, but it wasn’t. There were times when we drew and the other teams won, then the gap got smaller, so the pressure was always on.

“Teams changed how they played against us so we also had to know how to break open a low block. It’s a process, and you have to follow that process all the way through.”


 

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