Reading Women’s 2-0 win in the fixture last season was the beginning of the end of Casey Stoney’s pursuit of Champions League football but on Friday night they face a different proposition at Leigh Sports Village, a Marc Skinner Manchester United Women side.
On Friday night, he takes charge of a competitive United game for the first time and the task won’t be easy.
Marc Skinner Manchester United Women Reign Begins
Building on the Work of His Predecessor
Despite her own belief that her unsuccessful pursuit of Champions League football was a “failure”, Casey Stoney did some great work at Manchester United Women, signing some fantastic players too.
Marc Skinner will look to build on those efforts whilst putting his own stamp on the team. He has recently told the press of what he wants from his Manchester United side: “I want an adaptive team that doesn’t just have one way of playing.
“What I learned at Birmingham was that our teams were very ball-possession based. In America, I tried that in the first year and it didn’t work out, so I had to find the best way of attacking the NWSL.
“So I want us to be adaptive, but I want to play attacking football and exciting football, which is a brand of football that Manchester United fans expect.
“So it will be a possession-based style but from my time in the NWSL, it will also be about exploiting lines and breaking lines and being aggressive between those lines.”
Manchester United have had a healthy pre-season, going unbeaten in their four games – winning two and drawing two. Katie Zelem has been keeping up her trademark free-kicks and Kirsty Hanson has looked in fantastic form ahead of the new season.
A Historic Night Beckons With New Sky Sports TV Deal
The game will kickstart the new season and a new era for women’s football with Sky Sports airing live coverage.
Since Manchester United Women’s formation in 2018, they have faced The Royals on six occasions. Reading have always been tough opponents for the Red Devils and are sure to be again in Friday night’s FA Women’s Super League opener.
In 2018/19, Reading were successful in two cup encounters between the two sides – when Manchester United started in the FA Women’s Championship – though, the reds did take them to extra time in one. United gained promotion comfortably and would go on to face Reading in the league for the following two seasons and beyond.
Manchester United were victorious in the home game in 2019/20, by two goals to nil. Reading then held United 1-1 in the return fixture.
This past season, United edged past Reading with a late Hayley Ladd winner on the road but failed to overcome them at Leigh Sports Village – a disappointing 2-0 loss.
Sky Sports have picked a cracking start to their history-making women’s football coverage.
How Manchester United Women’s Summer Went
Well, the summer transfer window started slowly with Marc Skinner’s eventual appointment not the fastest of recruits. Though, in the meantime, United did start announcing signings before they had a manager on the books.
Manchester United added five new signings to their ranks; Norwegian midfielder Vilde Bøe Risa, Chelsea Women full-back Hannah Blundell, Bristol City Women goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, former Manchester City Women defender Aoife Mannion and striker Martha Thomas, previously of West Ham United Women.
The Red Devils said goodbye to American pair Christen Press and Tobin Heath at the end of their deals. Abbie McManus and Jessica Sigsworth both joined Super League newcomers Leicester City Women. Lauren James joined Chelsea in a deal that saw Blundell move to Manchester in return. Whilst, Amy Turner joined Skinner’s former club Orlando Pride with Jane Ross making the move back to her home country with Rangers.
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Some of those outgoings will prove great losses but Manchester United have a squad full of talent and will continue to look forward.
Reading’s Transfer Window
Reading have been less busy with outgoings, just Kiera Skeels and Sophie Quirk left – both for Charlton Athletic Women.
However, they have added six new players to the squad. Natasha Dowie joined from AC Milan Women before Gemma Evans and Faye Bryson made the move from Bristol City, Chloe Peplow was then added from Tottenham Hotspur Women. With Deanne Rose, from Florida Gators, and Justine Vanhaevermaet arriving from LSK Kvinner.
Kelly Chambers has been in charge of Reading since 2015, her team know exactly what she demands of them and the longevity is a testament to her work at the club.
Interesting to See How Far Marc Skinner’s Manchester United Can Go
Women’s football fans have only experienced a Casey Stoney Manchester United so there is plenty of anticipation to see what changes under Marc Skinner, how far he can take them, and if the team can deliver in competing with Arsenal Women, Chelsea and Manchester City again.
Falling just short of the Champions League places last year will have hurt a club so keen on being involved in the biggest European tournament in women’s football. United have added some Champions League experience to their squad too, which could be crucial.
Manchester United have been made strong favourites to win this opening game on Friday night and they may well oblige.
Prediction: 3-1 to Manchester United.
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