Casey Stoney, the manager of Manchester United Women, gets the chance to test her team against one of the elite clubs in the FA Women’s Super League on the opening day of the season. Oh, and we forgot to mention — the game is against their cross-city rivals Manchester City Women!
It’s a mouth-watering prospect for Stoney and her troops. To play the first match of the campaign in a derby clash can be one of two things, obviously depending on the result. But it is what United have fought tooth and nail for and this is their reward after being promoted to the top flight from the championship.
In their way is a City side brimming with talent and high on confidence following two cup triumphs last season. And manager Nick Cushing knows he and his outfit should be favourites in what will be the first professional meeting of the two tomorrow (Saturday) at the Etihad Stadium no less, with a 3pm kick-off.
Cushing says he will get the mindset of his players right on the day and remind them of the challenge ahead but at the same time he is keen for his players to respect the opposition. adding:
“We will prepare the same way we do for any game. We will prepare to play a very good team, who we respect.”
City go in to the keenly anticipated game with the bonus of being able to call upon the services of hugely influential midfield ace Keira Walsh after she had a change of heart regards a proposed move away from the club. The England schemer had looked at switching clubs over the summer months — she even put in an official transfer request but subsequently withdrew it. But the playmaker, who is aged 22, opted to remain under the guidance of Cushing and he says he is delighted that this is now the case.
And Cushing added that it was
“imperative to keep Keira here if we want to be successful. She plays a very important role. She’s in the England team because she’s a very good footballer. She has a unique ability to control games. We’ve got more chance of winning and continuing to win with Keira in the team”.
The game against United kicks off what is a busy month for City — but Cushing has already stated that he believes he has the squad capable of coping with the challenging schedule. After clashing with the Red Devils, City then go to FC Lugano for a Champions League game on September 12; then — just three days later they host Reading in the Women’s Super League before welcoming Leicester City for a FA Women’s League Cup tie. This is followed by the home leg against FC Lugano.