Next up in our preview of the 2013 FA WSL season, 2012 runners up Birmingham City FC.
Manager – David Parker
A classic example of the youthful breed of coaching talent emerging in the men’s and women’s games, David Parker bears many similarities to current Tottenham men’s coach Andre Villas-Boas. A performance analyst with a career developed in youth team programmes in the US, Parker has been a critical member of the Birmingham City Ladies team since 2009. Following a successful stint in charge of the Reserve team, Parker was appointed Head Coach of the first team in time for the inaugural season of the FA WSL, leading the club to the runners up spot in each of his first two seasons at the helm.
Last Time Out
Runners up in the league behind eventual winners Arsenal, but the team tasted glory as winners of the Women’s FA Cup.
Something of a prodigal daughter at the club, England regular Karen Carney began her career as a 14-year old debutant with Birmingham City before being snapped up by Arsenal in 2006, having made her international debut the year before. Despite her diminutive stature, Carney’s creative abilities and eye for goal saw her hit 28 goals in just 54 appearances for the Gunners before she relocated to the US with Chicago Red Stars. With the collapse of the Red Stars ahead of the 2011 season, Carney returned to Birmingham where she quickly endeared herself to home fans all over again in scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final in 2012. Still just 25 and with 77 international caps to her name, Carney’s career is entering its pinnacle, and her ability to hurt teams from wide positions will form a critical element of Birmingham’s challenge.
Despite an abundance of talent in attacking positions and at the back, the Birmingham midfield remains slightly light in both numbers and quality. Indeed, the club’s official pages include profiles of only 3 bona fide midfielders, although a number of the club’s forward talent is clearly equally comfortable dropping into advanced midfield positions. The departure of Eni Aluko for Chelsea, meanwhile, will hurt the team, as a player who has spent a great deal of time relying on her pace to threaten opposition defences is beginning to show true signs of maturity in attack.
Away vs. 2012 Champions, Arsenal, 24/03/2013 (Continental Cup)
As two-times runners up to the somewhat dominant Arsenal Ladies team, it would take a brave prediction to put Birmingham in any other position than as 2nd favourites. They are, though, a somewhat distant second and with Everton Ladies finishing just a point behind them last season, this year could be a tough battle for Parker’s side. With other teams having strengthened convincingly in the off-season, we think this year may be a struggle.