Neil Redfearn: Sheffield United Women have plan to compete at top end of the WSL
Sheffield United Women boss Neil Redfearn believes the club is close to fulfilling its ambition of promotion to the WSL - and competing at the top level.
The Blades are fourth in the second tier of women’s football in England, having lost just once in their last 10 matches – a narrow 2-1 defeat against league leaders Leicester City.
Promotion is beyond their reach this season with just three league games left, but the former Leeds United Rotherham and Liverpool Women manager said the club is ‘on the right tracks’ for future success.
He told The Star: "We are still developing where we need to be but I'm really pleased with how the girls have applied themselves and the club's backed it 100 per cent.
“The group is probably missing two or three players that can make us capable of stepping to the next level and competing. We are not far off with what we have got."
While the growth of women’s football at the top of the game has been exponential in recent years – underlined by the announcement last month of a “landmark” multi-million pound broadcast deal – the gulf between the haves and the have-nots in the WSL has been exposed by numerous thrashings, with 13 matches won by five goals or more so far this season.
“There's no point going up and getting battered every week and being around the bottom two or three,” said Redfearn, who won the WSL 2 with Doncaster Rovers Belles in the 2017/18 season.
“You want to be challenging in that top group. That's going to take time. You have got to have built properly through your promotion year, then you have got to add competitive players to it that can compete at that level.
"You want to try and get there as quick as you can but the bottom line is you have got to be ready and that's what we are building towards.”
Redfearn briefly managed Liverpool in the WSL in 2018 but resigned after just one league game in charge.
“The bottom line for me is what was promised from the start and perhaps not delivered,” he said, “I have gone to Liverpool to compete as Liverpool but we weren't in the same ballpark as some teams.”
The experienced coach-turned-manager feels his ambition and commitment is matched by his current employers, with a strategy in place should they get promoted.
"You can really put your ID through a team in the women's game,” he added, “You can really build. There's more of a narrative in the men's game geared around three points.
"You have got eight games and sometimes you have to forfeit some of your beliefs to put a winning team out there and get going quicker.”
A win against Liverpool in United’s final home league game of the season on April 25 could see them clinch third sport ahead of the Reds, who are currently above them on goal difference.
"The club have really bought into the fact that we are trying to build something, to develop something,” he said.
"I have enjoyed myself, it’s is a really good club to be at. I get on with the people I work with and get on with the players really well, they back what we are doing.”