With the 2021/2022 FA Women’s Championship season over and Sunderland having secured another year in the second tier of women’s football, it’s time to stop and reflect.
Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....
This summer, Roker Report is profiling some of the SAFC Women players by asking them some interesting questions, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people.
Where were you born? Newcastle, England
Former teams you’ve played for? I played Ryton Boys up until I was 10/11. After that, I joined the Newcastle Centre of Excellence and was there up until I was 16, before playing for the senior side. I also played for Gateshead college for 3 years. It was when I was 18 I moved to Sunderland and played for the development team before securing a place into the first team.
Favourite food? I love pizza! But I can only have a Flint Pizza now. They are sooo good and no other pizza can compare!
Favourite music genre/artist/band? I will listen to any kind of music really. It depends on my mood, but I like a good mix of different genres and styles
Who inspired or inspires you? My family has always been my biggest inspirations and continue to be. They have always supported me and I’m very grateful
What would you sing on the team bus karaoke? It is usually an Adele song which I sing with Emma Kelly. Although I’m more of the back-up singer in our singing duo
Who is your favourite women’s footballer past or present? I wouldn’t particularly say I have a favourite, although Lucy Bronze is incredible. I watch a lot of football, so there are numerous players I enjoy watching and see what I can learn from them when they play
Do you have any superstitions or pre-match rituals? I think I have far too many to share. But one of the ones I do, is making sure I high five the rest of the defence, goalkeeper and whoever is playing on the same wing as me before each game
Any other hobbies? I love anything outdoors really. Me and some of the girls from the team regularly go on little trips and hikes together. I also love my dogs and walking them
Fun fact about yourself or hidden talent? Gaffer Mel Reay has been my coach for the last 15 years! I’ve worked with her since I was 14 and I have worked with her at the Newcastle Centre of Excellence, Gateshead College, Sunderland Development and now of course the Sunderland Senior Team.
If you weren’t playing football, what do you think you would do or want to do? I am in my dream job, working as a firefighter. So I wouldn’t change anything in regards to my job. However, I would love to have more time to see my family and travel more
An underrated player, no doubt, Megan Beer is someone who goes about her business quietly and whilst she may not get the accolades or plaudits like some of her teammates, she does well in her role and greatly contributes to the way the lasses play both offensively and defensively.
She almost reminds me of German ex-footballer Philip Lahm in some regards. He was also someone who went quietly about their business, but they always had a substantial impact on the game in terms of controlling the pace of the match.
Beer had 16 appearances in all competitions last year and averaged 80.9 minutes per game in which she primarily played in right-back, however, she was also called upon to play at both left and right centre-back during times where the team had injuries or suspensions.
She is someone who wears her heart on their sleeve and gives their all in every game, leaving everything out on the pitch. Despite the fact that she works in an arduous but rewarding occupation as a firefighter, Beer can still give 100% week-in-week-out, which is a testament to the type of player and person she is.
Beer is a modern fullback in the sense that she provides offensive and defensive covering throughout the entire flank. She’s enthusiastic in her deeds when it comes to the latter, wanting to make the initial move rather than allowing opponents to do so. She shows confidence in her ability to make an early tackle or poke the ball away with her leg.
Her drive to play on the front foot and not allow opponents to control her is vital and it demonstrates her want to create a defensive impression. Any lofted balls into the full-back zone, as well as passes targeted behind her, are closely monitored and frequently cut out before the opposition player can get into a dangerous area.
She is aggressive and front-footed, but she is also remarkably patient and composed when it comes to approaching duels; her great body shape and tackle control assist her to be an efficient ball winner, allowing the opportunity to counter quickly.
Her calmness in one-on-one engagements stands out the most among her defensive repertoire. Beer avoids challenges near the side-line by manoeuvring her opponent away from promising positions or onto their less dominant foot in order to prevent crosses into the box. Her statistics, as well as the video evidence below, demonstrate the poise and confidence she exhibits in these one-on-one scenarios.
Beer battles her way back even when it appears she has been beaten by a dribbler with some superb lunging tackles. Closing-off key passing angles and leaving a lane open for the winger to try to dribble down is one of her most adventurous defensive methods, she then uses her lengthy strides to gain ground on her opponent or put herself between them and the ball.
Neve Herron Interview and Player Profile done ✅— Charlotte Patterson (@kirbyhazard) June 2, 2022
Just awaiting publication
Now onto the resolute and sharp @MegBeer2. Like always, it is so difficult to condense a whole season of footage into 2 minutes as per twitter rules, but here are Beer's highlights
Beer will go into high positions on the outside of the attack during the more established offensive phase. The wide forwards can now push inside and occupy the half-space as a result of this movement. Beer’s skill on the ball becomes even more apparent in these high situations, allowing her to receive cleanly regardless of the position of the opposing defender.
She can move and shield the ball when it is played high into her area, or she can control passes that are played into her feet. She also shows a lot of poise in possession, being able to slow the game down and allow for line-breaking runs by slipping passes through the opposition’s defensive formation.
When the ball is played to her side, Beer likes to come out and engage the ball in an aggressive but composed manner, primarily by getting in front of the opposing player to challenge for the ball and make an interception.
Beer is highly dangerous in the transition from those positions and in such situations, with her passing range and ability to release attackers below the defensive line a real issue for opponents.
Beer has been asked to play wherever throughout the defensive and midfield for Sunderland this season, despite her preference at right back. Her position as a right-back, though, is anything from typical.
Beer spends a lot of Sunderland’s possession underlapping into midfield and seeking to receive the ball, rather than patrolling wide areas from right-back to right-wing. Of course, when Sunderland are pressed deep, Beer will retreat to a right-back shape to help her team distribute the ball around. But once the ball and territory have been secured, Beer will aim to cause havoc in the right half-space.
Beer has a tendency to accelerate up the wing and play a give-and-go with the right winger, who is generally Emma Kelly. She’s a fullback who likes to get behind the defence with clever combinations and runs, seeing space and makes good forward runs from deep to provide another option for injecting pace into an attack.
She is composed on the ball and makes use of body feints to create space. When there is room to be attacked, she is quite effective, looking to catch the opposition off guard with sophisticated passing and speed as she sprints down the right side. She is good at offering width and appears to be willing to interchange positions.
Beer is still a capable offensive player. Her speed and willingness to push forward is a powerful offensive weapon, and it also serves her well on defence, allowing her to win loose balls, close down opponents, and rapidly recover position.
She is also quite adept at crossing first time balls into the box in an attempt to catch the defenders out when they are back peddling.
Unfortunately due to the fact that Sunderland does not have an out and out target player upfront, it has been difficult for these crosses to bare fruit. If Sunderland do sign a forward who is either quick, tall, and/or strong, it may well add a different facet to Sunderland's style of play and create more opportunities to score from crosses.
Once again, I cannot reiterate and emphasise enough just how integral and fortunate Sunderland are to have a player of Beer’s calibre. Despite working full-time in a laborious and strenuous job, Beer is still so dedicated to the team and incredibly conscientious.
2021-22 Season Stats (Averages)
- 44.38 Total actions per game
- 20.73 Passes per game
- 56.6% Passing accuracy per game
- 16.01 Duels
- 59.3% Duel success
- 8.26 Recoveries per game
- 5.9 Long passes per game
- 4.97 Interceptions per game
- 2.23 Aerial duels
Ed’s Note [Rich]: As Charlotte describes, Megan Beer is the epitome of a quietly effective yet absolutely essential footballer in a successful Championship side. Ms Consistency, she’s been in and around the Sunderland squad for many years and is someone that the gaffer trusts implicitly and has shown herself able to perform at the highest level. In a team that is packed full of up-and-coming talent, Beer is a steady hand and a tough competitor whose experience and nous counts for so much - particularly when she’s been asked to fill in at centre back.
The era when players such as Beer, who also has an important career in a vital public service, are able to complete at the highest level may well be coming to an end in the next few years. But we should value her while she continues to do a great job for the club, always give huge credit to the dedication of those women who’ve sacrificed so much for the Lasses as part-time players over the last 30-odd years.