Casey Stoney: Great strides made in women's game

England and Lincoln Ladies captain Casey Stoney is writing a regular column for the BBC Sport website this season.

Here she talks about Liverpool's WSL triumph and what it means for the women's game.

Liverpool's victory over Bristol Academy in the Women's Super League title decider on Sunday signalled a real power shift in the women's game and it's set a new level that other teams will now have to match.

Their first league title underlines what real investment in a women's team can achieve.

All about Casey Stoney

Casey Stoney
  • Born: 13 May 1982, London
  • Captain and centre-back at Lincoln Ladies
  • Former clubs: Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea
  • England skipper with 115 caps
  • Considered international retirement after not playing at Euro 2005 in England
  • Says she often gets confused on Twitter with former MotoGP rider Casey Stoner

Liverpool were bottom of the WSL table last season and although they signed a whole team and were able to train five times a week it is still a wonderful achievement by manager Matt Beard to make everything gel in the first year.

In my view, they deserve to win the title as they have been the most consistent side this season and it shows you that if other teams want to compete with Liverpool, they have to match their commitment.

Other teams, including former champions Arsenal, still train only two to three times a week but I believe Liverpool's move to a full-time schedule has made a telling difference.

Unless other clubs can follow suit, Liverpool will start as favourites for next season's title. They are only going to improve and clubs that don't keep up with them will go backwards.

This season has been a great stride forward for the women's game; domestically the league has never been more competitive and you have to compete for every single point. It's an exciting time.

But if the England team is to compete at international level we have to get to point where all our top-flight clubs are full-time. My hope is that happens within five years.

The introduction of a second tier next season should add to the league's competitiveness while offering the chance for players at other clubs to develop in a more professional environment.

And although our poor European Championship was a blip, we need to keep moving forward to stay in touch with our international rivals and avoid becoming complacent.

England back on song

England's victories over Belarus and Turkey put the Euro 2013 nightmare well behind us and while were expected to win both games, I was pleased we didn't drop our standards because of that.

Scoring 14 goals and conceding none was fantastic, and you could tell that the girls were bursting to make an impression after Sweden and in front of new manager Brent Hills.

Women's Super League round-up

Brent was very relaxed, and enjoyed himself because being the manager is something he has always wanted to do.

He has already declared he wants the job on a full-time basis but it is not for me to say whether he has enhanced his chances. Picking the new manager is not something the players can control.

All I will say is that the new manager should be the best person for the job, male or female. I'm excited about a new coach but also anxious because I don't know where my future lies with England.

The new boss might have difference ideas and although I've been picked for England over the last 13 years, who's to say the new person will think the same?

Time to take take stock at Lincoln

At my club, Lincoln Ladies, it has been a disappointing season, finishing third from bottom in the WSL.

Final WSL standings

Pld Pts

1

Liverpool

14

36

2

Bristol

14

31

3

Arsenal

14

30

4

Birmingham

14

18

5

Everton

14

15

6

Lincoln

14

10

7

Chelsea

14

10

8

Doncaster

14

6

We are due to move the club to Nottingham next season and become Notts County Ladies so we are desperate to win some silverware when we take on Arsenal in the Continental Cup final on Friday.

Winning a trophy would be the perfect send-off for everyone involved in the club since it formed in 1995. It would also represent my first cup since 2006, which has been far too long.

After the final I will sit down with the club to discuss their ambitions for the future because it is clear this season has not been good enough.

We need to sign new players and train more often if we are to improve and with my contract up, I want to make sure that the club's targets are the same as mine.

I came here to win things but it hasn't been that way for the last three years so things need to change a little bit if we are to succeed.