With last season's performance in mind and the departure of successful manager Matt Beard to the US, many were unsure of what to make of the new-look Liverpool FC Ladies. Would the disappointing previous campaign be an anomaly or a signal of the fall of one of the FA Women's Super League's premier teams?
As the first half of the season came to a close, it was clear that last season was not a blip and that something has fundamentally changed at the club.
Pre-season transfers a sign of things to come
During the pre-season transfer window, Liverpool fans watched as their team was dismantled and many of the long-time players on the team who had brought them previous success searched for greener pastures. Leading goal-scorer Natasha Dowie headed off to Doncaster Belles and was joined there by midfield fixture Katrin Omarsdottir and veteran defender Becky Easton. The biggest loss to Liverpool was undoubtedly England stalwart Fara Williams who transferred to league rivals Arsenal and was joined there by Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala.
Although new manager Scott Rogers brought in the likes of Siobhan Chamberlain, Natasha Harding, Shanice van de Sanden and Emma Lundh to try and stem the gaps left by previous players, there was a sense of pessimism floating around at the start of the season.
Early results show cracks
Liverpool started off the season losing to Manchester City in the FA Cup, which was not a complete surprise as Manchester City are the top team in the league so far. The club quickly put this result behind though them with a victory over Birmingham City in the first match of the 2016 FA WSL season. The win was hardly convincing and a draw at home against Sunderland showed that Liverpool's troubles did not leave with Beard's exit.
Back-to-back losses to Chelsea and Notts County showed that Liverpool were far from reaching any sort of form and that it would be a long road ahead of them if they harboured any hopes of challenging for the title or reaching the Champions League spots. A particularly awful defensive display away at Chelsea, where they ended up on the losing end of a six-three defeat, showed that the Reds needed a change in system and it needed to happen soon.
A change in personnel yields results
After the loss to Chelsea, Scott Rogers immediately changed the players in his system to try and find some kind of form again and it seems to have been the right move.
The introduction of both Satara Murray and Sophie Ingle seems to have restored Liverpool's defensive solidity and installing New Zealand international Rosie White into the line-up seems to have rejuvenated Liverpool's attacking momentum. Since the change, the Reds have managed a very good victory against Sunderland and a credible draw against league leaders Manchester City.
Liverpool have played more games then those closest to them in the table and below them, but if the draw against Manchester City was any indication, the club has turned a corner and could prove to be a tough team to beat once again. Liverpool will maintain that they are still looking towards the top of the table but the upcoming Continental Cup could prove to be where they'll find the most success this season.