So close yet so far. That about sums up Manchester City’s Women’s Super League (WSL) campaign for the 2020/2021 season.
Happily, a fresh new campaign has just kicked off. And after four consecutive seasons in second place, there is real belief this could be the year the big prize makes its return to the Academy Stadium.
No doubt, it will be a challenging season. But the team’s opening day demolition of Everton suggests that QNET’s darling Sky Blues have the ability to dispatch any opponent in their path. That’s not the only positive sign, too, that’s raising fans’ expectations for the coming months.
Experience in spades
Man City may have lost the terrific American trio of Abby Dahlkemper, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis in the summer, but the side still boasts a wealth of talent. Among these are Great Britain Olympic stars Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Ellen White as well as Canadian forward Janine Beckie, a Tokyo gold medallist.
Yes, defender Bronze may be on the side-lines for a while due to her knee surgery. But golden girl Beckie believes the team is formidable and the players’ collective Olympics experience is only going to help.
“We have a real hunger to win trophies again … we’ll chase after those trophies and hopefully, the confidence from the Olympic tournament can help the team,” she says.
A winning mentality
That’s not all. While City may have just missed out on the league title last year, bagging three of the last four FA Cups proves they know how to win. The team have also made champion additions to the squad this year, and one new signing in particular could serve as the catalyst for City’s march to the title — Spanish playmaker Vicky Losada.
Losada is no ordinary footballer. The ex-captain of Barcelona is fierce, combative and has made it clear she intends to lead her new teammates to glory. As she said just before arriving at Academy Stadium this year: “I can help them.”
The promise of goals, goals and more goals!
All the experience and confidence, however, won’t help the club bag titles if it can’t score. Enter Jamaican sharpshooter Khadija “Bunny” Shaw.
Bunny’s a goal machine who finished last season in the French league with 24 goals in 21 games for Bordeaux. She, of course, admits the WSL will present a new challenge, but the long-time Man City fan, who opened her WSL account with a fabulous strike against Everton on Day 1 of the 2021/2022 campaign, is determined to unleash the power in her boots.
The gaffer is hungry for more
And then there’s manager Gareth Taylor. He may be relatively new to the women’s game, having only taken over at the helm midway through last season. Nevertheless, the former Wales and Man City player has consistently proven himself an astute tactician.
His last gig, just before being elevated to the women’s side, was as boss of City’s Under 18s, whom he led to two consecutive Premier League U18 Cup victories in 2019 and 2020.
Now, a new challenge awaits. And the gaffer is motivated to add to the silverware on his mantlepiece. And looking at how the stars are lining up for City – both in the skies and on the pitch –, this could just happen this year.
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