Yeovil Town Ladies manager Lee Burch talks to BBC Somerset presenter Matt Faulkner just after he had been unveiled as the new boss on Thursday 14th June 2018.
Photo © 2019 BBC
LB: It's really exciting. That's the big thing for me. Every time I spoke to anyone at Yeovil, or looked at what was happening there, and the potential there and what I could maybe bring, I kept coming away with an excited feeling in my stomach. I was excited more so every time things moved forward, or you started thinking about the potential there. So I'm still in that phase now, where I'm looking forward to getting going.
MF: Tell us a bit about you. Am I right that you used to play and you were between the sticks? Is that right?
LB: As a player, I played everywhere in numerous positions. But the reason why people probably think I played in goal, was because years ago, just before I went to Millwall I broke my leg and when I came back I decided to go in goal for a little bit, because it just saved my leg and let me get back into it. I think if I'd been a bit taller as a kid I might have been a goalkeeper but I was very small and I didn't really grow until I was eighteen. As a kid I was a forward, and I've now moved so very far back that I'm in the dugout!
MF: Which seems to suit you very well, to be fair, because you've been working miracles for Millwall.
LB: Yes, it's been a really good couple of years. When I came there, the club had only won one game, but I was lucky that there were some very good players there. They just needed some direction, and it's gone from strength to strength. It was a really good couple of years, and we also had the Spring Series in between, after I did the first year that I was there. Last season, apart from the things away from the pitch, the stuff on the grass was brilliant and the players were excellent, and it was really enjoyable. That was a complete fit to where we finished (in 3rd place) and the long run was brilliant. The players and staff there take a lot of credit for that.
MF: Having finished bottom last season, do you think it's going to be hard to keep Yeovil in the Women's Super League next season?
LB: I think the league is so tough, because you've obviously got some really top sides at the top end, and they're getting better, like Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Then there are the likes of Reading that are just getting stronger. I think this is the season to come into it, because of the transition that every club is going to have to undertake. You've got West Ham and Brentford coming into the league, and there's going to be a transition period with a couple of teams changing managers like Liverpool. So I think this is a good time for Yeovil. We can certainly be closer this year than we were before. So that's the big thing for me, and so I'm looking forward to getting out there and giving it a go.
MF: So if I said to you then, that you can have one place off the relegation zone, would you take that at the start of the season?
LB: I think so, maybe now, because obviously we don't know what everything is going to look like with transition and where the squad was last season. But also that's not the mentality of myself and speaking to the club that's not the mentality of where the club want to be. We want to push on, and we will be taking it game by game. It is a bit of a cliche, but game-by-game, point-by-point, goal-by-goal and we will just keep trying to progress. If we can grab one place this season, then we need to look to progress from that next season etc etc. All of the teams are going to be tough as this is a really tough league, and that's the thing. I found that in FAWSL2 as well. Every game is competitive, and there are going to be no easy ones. We are going to have to claw for every point. I'm looking forward to that. As you say, maybe right now we'd take that. But hopefully in a couple of months time we'll be saying actually we can sneak in further forward.
MF: Do you know anything about your budget yet, any players that you can bring in, or any departures?
LB: Budget-wise, obviously the club have got their remit and they've been working hard in the background to make sure that they can satisfy the needs of the team. They've obviously done superbly to date. It's something from the background, looking in on Yeovil and seeing the crowds that they get, and how well they've done off the pitch. That's been really impressive for me, and obviously I'll continue to help them. Player-wise, we've obviously got some really good players at the club already. There's been a change around a lot, and that was obviously because of the transition and maybe players realised that they couldn't come into full time football, which is a shame, because I think there are going to be a lot of players that are going to miss out on playing in the top tier because they can't do it, as they can't be full time. They may have careers where they earn very good money outside of football.
We need to sit down and look at it player-by-player. We've got a lot of very good young players there, that got opportunities last season and we need to continue to develop them as well, in the right environment and in the right way. So we're looking at players, and we will be bringing in some players that will be coming into the group, and to add to the players that have already done well, not just for Yeovil recently, but over the last couple of seasons. There have been some good performances, so we need to build on what was already there.
MF: Just finally, how important is Huish Park to the club, because they didn't get to play all of their home fixtures there last season?
LB: Yes, it's nice to have that identity or that link with the men. But it's important as well, looking again from the outset, they played games away from there as well and they were well supported. They seemed to run really well even when they did play games away from there. It's really key for players when they turn up at a facility and a venue like Huish Park, that it's a venue that you know and you want to play your football in those surroundings. Some other clubs do have that as well. I think that's the main thing, that wherever the players are playing their football, that they feel like it's home, and that they feel like they can pick up a lot of home points. That's certainly going to be key for us this year - our home games are going to be instrumental.
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