Continuing The Sportist’s preview series for the 2013 FA WSL season, Bristol Academy WFC.
Manager – Mark Sampson
Having joined Bristol Academy WFC in January 2008, Mark Sampson is one of the most experienced managerial staff in the FA WSL. An experienced coach and coaching development professional, Sampson’s career has covered stints in the Welsh Colleges system, both major men’s Welsh football clubs and the Welsh Football Academy. Sampson’s experience of bringing through youth talent and developing up-and-coming footballers provides him with one of the deepest levels of experience within the women’s football coaching arena and is yet another example of the development of promising youth coaches to highly talented women’s football management.
Last Time Out
4th – which, for a team with the joint most miserly defence in the league, but also the worst goalscoring record outside of the bottom two, seemed a fair reflection.
To a large extent, Bristol Academy in the mould of the traditional, English mid-table side. Few natural stars, little by way of heavy ego and achievement built on extensive work ethic and a fundamentally solid tactical system. Even the best organised team, though, needs a lynchpin and in England international Siobhan Chamberlain, Bristol have one of the league’s most consistently impressive goalkeepers. An ever-present for BA WFC in each of the WSL seasons thus far, Chamberlain was a huge part of the reason Bristol lost only a single game by more than one goal in 2012.
A team which found the net only 17 times in 14 matches is inevitably going to put limitations on a team’s longer-term prospects. Last season’s joint top-scorer Laura del Rio carries a certain threat, while the re-signing of Welsh international Gwennan Harries from Everton Ladies, following 3 years with the Merseyside club, will offer Sampson another option up front.
Home vs. Lincoln Ladies, 23/03/2013 (Continental Cup)
A safe mid-table bet, it’s difficult to envisage Bristol challenging at the top without significant investment across the team. Sadly, the departure of Jess Fishlock to Seattle Reign, where she will link up with former Arsenal head coach Laura Harvey, demonstrates that the greater riches on offer in the US leagues remains something that English clubs simply cannot compete with. The club’s defensive record and the reassuring presence of Siobhan Chamberlain at the back will most likely ensure another mid-table finish for the west country team.