From the south coast to south London
Following the news earlier this month that Rebecca Sawiuk – who took charge of the Lionesses at the start of the year – had left her role to pursue other opportunities, the London side have announced Lee Burch as the new first team manager.
Burch, who has been jobless since the start of May after leaving his post as head coach of AFC Totton, has provisionally been contracted until the end of the FAWSL season. Burch takes the reigns from assistant manager Lauren Phillip and development manager Andy Hill, who had provided interim cover.
Although maybe not an obvious choice, Burch comes to Millwall with a wealth of diverse experience within the football world, having spent close to a decade working as a Skills Coach in the FA as well as seven years at the Southampton and Hampshire Girls' Centre of Excellence. As well as holding a UEFA A Licence and a UEFA B goalkeeper qualification, the new Millwall boss has honed his management skills in men’s non-league football.
A steady hand
As well as the departure of Sawiuk, Millwall have lost a number of first teamers too.
Ciara Sherwood and Megan Goss have left to join FAWPL side Crystal Palace; Dawn Mallett has moved to fourth tier Cambridge United and home favourite Dan Carlton has made the switch to WSL 2 leaders Yeovil Town.
With the Millwall squad a predominantly younger side, a cloud of uncertainty may have been threatening to rock the Lionesses, but with the speedy appointment of Burch, they will have a firm footing going into their last seven matches of the season.
In his first interview since taking charge, Burch admitted to having been present at the Stoke Gifford when Bristol City came from behind to claim a valuable win over the Lionesses. However, the new coach revealed an admiration for the performance and attitude of the defeated side.
Burch’s main goal is a simple one: “To get the results that the performances warrant.”
With no relegation to WPL this season, Millwall – and all the teams at the wrong end of the WSL 2 table – have a safety net. Especially following such a tremulous season, the South London outfit can look to build and lay down foundations for next season then, rather than worrying about the drop.
However, no team will want to finish at the bottom and certainly no side will throw in the towel, including the Lionesses.