After a thrilling display in the opening week of the WSL, Marc Skinner’s Manchester United side are looking for another win this weekend when they travel to West Ham on Sunday.
In a press conference on Friday, Skinner addressed the injuries he’s got in his squad and predicted when fans may next see them in action.
The biggest concern is Aoife Mannion, who will not be match ready until January. “I think we’re probably looking at game-ready in January, but she’s progressing really nicely and has been excellent in her rehab,” Skinner said.
Two of United’s new signings, Grace Clinton and Rachel Williams, have been ruled out of this weekend’s action too.
Skinner said “Grace Clinton may be out this weekend. She picked up a little cold in the week and has missed a couple of days training.”
When speaking about Williams, he said, “We’re probably looking at another two or three weeks.”
Switching attentions to the game itself Skinner said, “I have no doubt, we have to be on our mettle against them.”
Last year’s away fixture at West Ham ended in a draw and Skinner knows that can’t happen again this year.
“It was single points from draws that let us down last year,” he says. “There’s always a good or bad draw if that makes sense – if you dominate the game and draw, it feels like a bad point, but if you just grab a draw at the end it turns into a good point.”
But just like United, West Ham have strengthened and improved over the summer and that was evident in their win against Everton at the weekend.
“I thought their forward line looked bright and dangerous. In their back line, Cissoko is very good in the one-v-one areas, Parker builds up a little bit better with the ball but has great ability,” he said.
Speaking of his game plan, despite the injuries, Skinner believes there’s strength and depth in his squad to try different things. “We have a couple of game models we could use against West Ham – if we start with one we could adapt to another, but it’s what the opponent gives you on the day and we’ve got to take advantage of that. I feel we’re in a better space this year to be able to score goals,” the manager said.
He continued, “We blew Reading away in 35 minutes. I’m not expecting that every week, but you have to be relevant throughout the whole of the game and I think that’s going to be one of our key aspects.”
Skinner also touched upon the support he and the team has from other members of the club, “We will always be supported here as a women’s team. I thoroughly believe that.”
He continued, “John Murtough (football director) and Andy O’Boyle (deputy football director) were over watching the training session today. Steve McClaren (men’s assistant manager) was over the other day watching. We have that constant interaction and I have constant meetings with Andy and John.”
He concluded by assessing the league as a whole and how it’s changed, particularly thinking of Chelsea and City’s defeats last weekend and what that shows moving forward.
“It was a really good warning without us physically taking that warning. It shows the gap is shortening. But there is really interesting focus points within it of styles of football.”
United will take on West Ham on Sunday 25th September at 3pm.