David Parker is certainly one of the managers to watch in the women’s game, the Birmingham City Ladies’ Manager is full of passion and determination and has developed a squad that is built for long-term success.
In recent years, Birmingham City LFC have won the FA Women’s Cup, finished second in the FA WSL for two consecutive years, and are the only English side to progress to the semi-finals of the UWCL 2013/14 edition.
Parker talks to Women’s Soccer United about the upcoming UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final against Tyresö, being the only English representative at this stage in the top European club competition and why Birmingham City are always considered the underdogs.
Women’s Soccer United: What do you think has been the biggest improvement at Birmingham City LFC since your time there as manager?
David Parker: Looking at this objectively it has been a massive team effort on and off the pitch. The FAWSL has transformed the club and we have flourished. The club has always relied on good people to steer it in the right direction and in bringing so many top people to the club over this period has certainly given us a massive competitive edge. The main thing people will always look at is how successful you are, and we have certainly done that winning the FA Cup in 2012 and being the 2nd most successful club behind Arsenal in this new era.
What work do you do to get the squad’s mental approach right, especially when facing top class teams?
There’s many areas we look at and because we have limited contact time (we are still semi-pro) a lot of this is done in and around the training pitch. But it’s also about having the right characters in the dressing room to help this flourish. That’s why when we promote a youth player or bring in someone new from the outside they have to be the right fit for the club on and off the pitch and have the right mentality.
Do you think Birmingham are overlooked and/or underrated – if so, is this an advantage to you and your team?
Absolutely. But this is nothing new to us, we are not the fashionable big name club that people associate with the men’s teams. We have been so successful and not got the plaudits we deserve compared to other clubs that have had moderate success or dare I say failure. It does work for us as we are always the underdog and always have a point to prove.
You’ll be up against strong opposition in the semi-finals, Swedish champions Tyreso FF. What can we expect of your team?
I expect them to put their heart and soul into the game and it’s all I can ask for. If it’s good enough over the two legs then great. I know the girls will come off the pitch with blood, sweat and tears regardless, and if everyone can look themselves in the mirror after and say I gave it my all, then whatever will be will be.
How would you describe your style of coaching?
I would say very detailed orientated to get information across to the team for what is needed in the forthcoming games but also a balance to develop the younger players and develop each and every player to help them fulfil their potential.
What would winning the Champions League mean for yourself and your team?
I couldn’t put it into words!
What tactics do you prefer?
The one which wins a game of football, but we also want to excite the fans and have a brand of football that people enjoy watching. However it’s a tricky balance between getting a result and playing the game with great excitement and quality. Sometimes one has to give depending on the occasion.
What do you think are Tyreso’s main strengths and key players?
They are just full of world class players. There are the obvious names that everyone is familiar with but they are strong on the counter attack and built for European football. They have a great blend of qualities that has made them successful.
How does it feel to be the only team representing England at this stage of the tournament?
Very proud that we now carry the weight of a nation.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.