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Young and In Charge: shaping the Foxes in her image

A Blank Slate in Lydia Bedford

Leicester City Women’s Manager Lydia Bedford Signs a New Contract...

The 2022/2023 campaign will be Lydia Bedford’s first full season in charge at the club. Her initial tenure at the club focused on keeping the Foxes up. What can we expect this season? Let’s get to know the manager and see what we can uncover.

Lydia Bedford is young. She’s only 34 years old, soon to be 35, with a birthday in a week. Currently the youngest WSL manager. With her relative youth compared to her peers perhaps will we see a more timid and reserved approach, or will she push for experimentation? The 9-0 loss to Chelsea may be indicative of the style she will implement this year. That match saw the Foxes in a high press, to their dismay. While it ended in a crushing defeat, it was one of her few matches where she tinkered with the system and she fully attributed the loss to her tactical plan. With a preseason to mold the team and without the impending threat of relegation, the high press could reappear as a regular in her early season matches.

Bedford didn’t play professional football. Originally she planned to be a physical education teacher, but then shifted to football receiving her pro license in 2019. Bedford joined Leicester from coaching the girls U17 national team. She’s coached a few of the current senior national team players in their youth days.

With her youth management background one may assume Bedford will target young English recruits (well, I assumed this). Her first transfer window this past January, she brought in on loan two of her former English youth team players in Missy Goodwin and Freya Gregory (so I was right). Goodwin signed on a permanent basis this July and is all of 19 years old. Aside from those two, the other teenage signing is Carrie Jones (Wales) this summer on loan from Manchester United.

The other Bedford signings are more experienced and predominantly non-English (nope, I was definitely wrong). Josie Green (29) is another Welsh signing. The remainder are Bott (27, New Zealand), Aileen Whelan (31, England), and Simon (28, United States). The average age of the current squad is 25 years old. Perhaps with these four signings it indicates Bedford feels more experience and resilience is needed to see through matches and avoid the collapses that lead to 9-0 losses.

Foxes manager Lydia Bedford is a relative blank slate. We may see a few systems employed as she balances her vision for the club and what the team can realistically execute.