Manchester City Women Team Super League
5 mins read

Manchester City Women Team Super League

Plan

“We need to win the league this season,” Gareth Taylor said bluntly before what promises to be a transitional season at the Academy Stadium. As if losing Ellen White, Jill Scott and Karen Beardsley to retirement, Lucy Bronze – and almost certainly Keira Walsh too – to Barcelona, Georgia Stanway to Bayern Munich and Caroline Weir to Real Madrid wasn’t burdensome enough, the City manager saw his team relegated from the Champions League, when they fell to a 1-0 defeat in a qualifying match against Real Madrid in August.

With Barcelona set to add their key midfielder Walsh to their squad after agreeing a record fee for leading the England national team, Taylor faces a daunting task as he continues to lead a significant squad upgrade. One familiar face remaining in place is former England captain Steph Houghton, and City could do with their influential 34-year-old central midfielder showing that the achilles issue that caused her to miss most of last season is firmly in the past.

Houghton was joined by several interesting high-level players, including Venezuelan forward Dejan Castellanos, recruited from Atletico Madrid, Spanish left-back Leila Wahabi, signed from Barcelona, Spanish right-back or central midfielder Laila Aleixandre, who previously played for Atletico, and the former forward of Montpellier and the national team Australia. Mary Fowler. At the age of 19, Fowler, who can play as a striker or striking midfielder, is considered one of the most interesting emerging talents in the game.

Although City recovered from a poor start and finished third last season, Taylor’s team ended up nine points behind champions Chelsea and eight behind Arsenal. It didn’t help that Taylor’s first goalkeeper, Ally Roebuck, spent the first half of that campaign sidelined due to issue. This season, Roebuck is ready to return to duty as an integral part of a team with deft passes, increasingly based on possession, led by England wingers Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly, and defended by England defenders Alex Greenwood and Demi Stokes. Taylor’s redevelopment project looks exciting, but comes with a lot of risk, and the Etihad campus fears that Walsh’s departure could be a tipping point when a controlled transition turns into a riot. They say no one is irreplaceable, but the world record transfer fee agreed for Walsh underlines her importance to City.

It took Taylor some time to adjust his management style to working with senior, consistently independent female players after his move from City’s men’s youth team to succeed Nick Cushing in 2020. There were rumours that the former Wales striker could be a bit domineering, but despite the fact that he never saw eye to eye with Bronze, Taylor softened his approach to the overall beneficial effect. The 49-year-old striker, who has worked in Manchester City’s strike during his much-traveled playing career, is considered an excellent coach, but his signing will be under scrutiny after a summer of massive changes.

Key player

Lauren Hemp: Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Hemp is still only 22 years old. A winger with four PFA Young Player of the Year titles, she was an integral part of England’s Euro 2022 triumph. Although Cannabis is not finished yet, she is already on the verge of establishing herself as a world-class talent. Deployed mostly wide on the left, she is involved – both in creating and sometimes scoring – in a high percentage of City’s goals. Unfailingly humble and reassuringly down-to-earth, Hemp left her family home in North Norfolk at the age of 16 to join Bristol City, arriving at City in 2018, and has never looked back. Kelly Smith, once England’s best forward, says of her: “There aren’t many players who make me move, but Lauren Hemp is one of them. When she gets the ball, she does everything, she drives so fast that it’s deadly.”

Big Summer Signing

Fowler is seen as a potential international superstar. Having a father from the Republic of Ireland and a mother from Papua New Guinea, Fowler, who was born in Cairns, has connections around the world both on and off the field and is unusually mature for her age. Capable of playing both as an striking midfielder and striker, she scored 10 goals in 40 matches for Montpellier. Alex Stacey, a former coach of the Australian national team, said: “Mary probably has the largest number of weapons I have ever seen in female footballers of her age group.” She has already played 26 matches and scored seven goals for the Australian national team.

Super midfielder Kelly scored the goal that brought England to victory at Euro 2022; Hemp impressed on the left flank; the same can be said about the outstanding, although now coming on as a substitute, Walsh in the center of midfield, while Greenwood and Stokes were also part of Sarina Wigman’s team. Former Lionesses captain Houghton wouldn’t be human if she didn’t have mixed feelings watching her former teammates win the tournament, narrowly not found out on the final roster herself.

Call the crowd

City have sold a record number of season tickets and will play in the Manchester derby against Mark Skinner’s United at Etihad Stadium on December 11. Their first game against Arsenal on Sunday at the Academy Stadium is sold out.

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