THE humble surroundings of the Pennypit to Everton via Manchester United is not the most obvious of football journeys.

But Willie Kirk, who played and managed Prestonpans’ Preston Athletic, is loving life in charge of Everton Ladies after a stint at Manchester United Ladies.

The 40-year-old took the reins on December 1 and told Courier Sport: “It has been great. It is hectic and I started off with a Merseyside derby and now two matches against two previous clubs.

“There has not been much time to do long-term stuff but the players have been fantastic to work with so far.

“The important thing for me was getting Chris Roberts in as my assistant and I am getting to know the staff, getting to know the club and the players.”

Kirk was previously first team manager of Hibs Ladies before joining Preston Athletic in September 2014. He left in May the following year to manage Bristol City Ladies where he had three successful years.

The former Hibs youth coach had spent the last six months as assistant coach at Manchester United Ladies when the chance came up to get back into the managerial hot seat.

He told Courier Sport it came about in slightly unusual circumstances and said: “I actually recommended someone for the job and on the back of it, a few days later, the club asked what my interest in the job would be.

“I was enjoying life at United, albeit as a number two [to former England international Casey Stoney].

“It was not until that serious offer came that I realised I was possibly missing being a number one.”

The fully professional squad trains at Finch Farm, east of Liverpool, with “fantastic” facilities.

Kirk stressed he enjoyed his time with the Prestonpans side at the town’s Pennypit and Middleshot Square but there was “a world of difference”.

He said: “The year we got the run in the Scottish Cup, we played Stenhousemuir at home [winning 2-0].

“Then we played Brechin City and at the time the Brechin facilities were special compared to what we were used to in the East of Scotland League.

“We went to visit Gretna in the Lowland League and those were much better that what we were used to. Now you have got Manchester City Ladies at the Etihad Campus and Chelsea are buying a stadium for their team.

“It is a different world.”

Kirk, who worked as an accountant for 16 years before making the switch to full-time football, immediately endeared himself to the Toffees faithful with a 2-1 win over city rivals Liverpool in his first game in charge.

He said: “I never realised at the time that it was four-and-a-half years since we won against them.

“I’m quite glad I never knew that and it worked out well.

“Our performance was not fantastic but the result was really good and you could see players beginning to grow during that game.

“There was a little bit of belief about themselves.”

Victory against Liverpool was followed by a 2-0 defeat to Bristol Academy Ladies, with Kirk coming up against another of his former sides Manchester United this evening (Thursday) before another derby with Liverpool on Sunday.

Beyond that, the West Lothian-born former midfielder believes Everton could be on the right path for the future.

He said: “I think we have got the tools here to actually go on and achieve something really special.

“It is a new start, a new era for the club and we have got a squad of players here who are young.

“We have got a football club that is really ambitious and a fantastic working environment.

“We can create the right culture and I honestly believe in the next two or three years we can achieve something pretty special.”