Everton Women announce Willie Kirk's departure after poor start

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 Willie Kirk has left his role as manager of Everton Women after a disappointing start to the season.

After a promising summer transfer window, which included deals for club record signing Hanna Bennison and England international Toni Duggan, the Toffees were expected to be competing at the top of the table.

But a tough set of opening fixtures brought back-to-back 4-0 defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea, with the latter result drawing criticism on Twitter from commercial director Savar Ismailov.

© Provided by Daily Mail Willie Kirk has left his role as manager of Everton Women after a poor start to the season
© Provided by Daily Mail Kirk took over in December 2018 and he guided Everton to the FA Cup final in 2020

Kirk’s side responded with victories over Birmingham and Reading but a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal followed by a 5-1 thrashing against a weakened Man City side in the Continental Cup this week proved to be the Scot’s last fixtures in charge. Everton are currently eighth in the Women’s Super League.

‘I am thankful to the club for the opportunity that they gave me three years ago,’ Kirk said in a statement. ‘During that time, we have made tremendous progress both on and off the pitch and I leave the club in a better place. Without a doubt, the highlight was the FA Cup final less than a year ago, a memory that will stay with me forever.

‘Unfortunately, this season has not started the way we anticipated, due to a very tough opening fixture list and the re-building of a squad with eight new players. I have no doubt the talented squad that I leave behind can go on to have a very bright future.’

The club thanked Kirk for his efforts and said they are aiming to have a new manager in place before their next match against Leicester in the Conti Cup on November 3.

Kirk joined Everton in December 2018, when the club were bottom of the WSL and facing relegation.

© Provided by Daily Mail 18-year-old Hanna Bennison joined from Rosengard
© Provided by Daily Mail Toni Duggan made the move from Atletico Madrid

His first game in charge saw Everton beat Merseyside rivals Liverpool 2-1 and Kirk went on to guide the Toffees to safety.

The following campaign, which was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saw Everton finish sixth – their best place since 2013.

That season’s FA Cup was carried over into the following campaign and Kirk masterminded a victory over favourites Chelsea before a victory over Birmingham saw them reach the final at Wembley, were they were eventually beaten by Man City in extra-time.

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