Lydia Bedford: How Leicester's new boss plans to secure Women's Super League safety

By Emma SandersBBC Sport
Lydia Bedford and Leicester players
Lydia Bedford (centre) took over from former manager Jonathan Morgan after his seven years in charge of the club

New Leicester City manager Lydia Bedford has thrown herself in at the deep end - moving into club management for the first time and taking over a side without a win and bottom of the Women's Super League.

But the young English coach, who has worked with the Football Association since 2014, said it was a project that "excites" her and "felt like a good fit".

Bedford, 34, joins on a secondment from the FA until the end of the season, replacing former boss Jonathan Morgan.

"It's easy to stay doing what you've always done. The job I was doing at the FA I could do for the next 20 years and I'd probably enjoy it. But there's always the 'what if?' that you think about," said Bedford.

"For me, that was always club football. It was always going to be a big decision. I guess I'm challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone."

But just how big of a task is it to keep Leicester in the WSL?

They have lost all eight games in their first season in the top flight, conceding 19 goals.

"You have to be realistic but the players have showed resilience and real character," said Bedford. "It's my job to spark that confidence and give them structure and an edge."

Should Bedford keep them up, taking the job on long term might not be out of the question.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think this was an opportunity I could do longer term," she said. "If I love it, we achieve our goal and the club want me to be here then I think I would be silly not to consider it."

Breakfast changes and team bonding

Leicester's training facility
Inside Leicester's training facilities: (left) the weightlifting area of the gym, (centre) a note from Leicester defender Georgia Brougham, (right) Leicester's Championship trophy from the 2020-21 season

Bedford hopes to make subtle changes to create "the most elite environment possible".

The players will now eat breakfast together when they meet at 8.30am and on Wednesdays the team will socialise together for an hour. This week it will be a Christmas-themed games afternoon.

"I think the players were worried I'd come in with loads of rules but I keep saying they will know why I'm doing those things and it is to try and help us," said Bedford.

"If we're going to be successful then nutrition is going to be a massive part of our recovery so that's my justification.

"They are standards, little reminders and things which will hopefully help us be in a better position to compete."

Bedford's idea to include an hour's social time on Wednesdays stemmed from a game the squad came up with on the weekend before their cup victory over Manchester United.

All of the players were gathered around a table in the canteen with Bedford and she said they were engaged for 45 minutes, getting "very competitive".

"I want them to enjoy the environment and I believe if I can get them to enjoy it I'll get the best out of them," she said.

'It's a dog-friendly club!'

Lydia Bedford and her dog Baxter
Lydia Bedford with her dog, Baxter, who turned one last week

Bedford is not the only new face at Leicester City.

Her dog Baxter, a cockerpoo who turned one last week, is able to chill out at the training ground while the team works.

"I jumped at the opportunity because my previous job was home-based. I was using an app so people could look after him when I was away with work," said Bedford.

"This was the trial day. So far it's gone well because I don't think he's weed inside!

"It's a dog-friendly club. He has a little Leicester City bandana that goes around his collar but it might be slightly out of date so it had to come off in the photos earlier!"

'I don't think anyone has this'

While results have not gone the Foxes' way this season, the club are proud of their new training facilities, which the team moved into just 12 months after turning fully professional.

They have a restaurant, gym, analysis rooms, meeting rooms, recovery centres, hot and cold baths, changing rooms and three pitches solely for the use of the women's first team.

"We have two full-time chefs! I think that's unheard of in the WSL," said Bedford. "I've had the best food in the last week and I've got a pack-up to go home with for dinner.

"We have everything and there's no issue on when we want to use it. I can move training an hour later and the pitch is still available to use.

"I've probably visited every WSL club in the last seven years and I don't think anyone has this. It's unique. It feels really special."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC