It was a dreadful weekend for both Manchester City’s men’s and women’s teams, but while Pep Guardiola can put a loss to Crystal Palace behind him and focus on Club Bruges, the same cannot be said for Gareth Taylor.
The former striker lead City to second place last season, with the blues keeping pace with Chelsea right up to the final game of the season. His free scoring side were knocking in goals for fun and once City had the lead, the outcome was inevitable.
After losing American trio Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper and Rose Lavelle, Taylor added Alanna Kennedy, Bunny Shaw, Vicky Losada, Hayley Raso and Ruby Mace to the side and City looked strong when they outplayed Everton on the opening day of the season.
But injuries have taken their toll on the blues. Ellie Roebuck and Lucy Bronze haven’t featured this season, Steph Houghton was injured on international duty, Losada and Raso have both spent time on the sidelines, and Esme Morgan faces a lengthy period out. And let’s not forget Chloe Kelly, who has been out since being injured in a home match against Birmingham City.
However, managers need to adapt to their situation, and unfortunately, it seems Gareth Taylor hasn’t done so. Granted, he is in a difficult position, but the manager cut a forlorn figure, looking on from the touchline at 2-0 down, wondering what he could do to change the situation.
His response was to bring on Jess Park and Losada, and the latter forced City’s first meaningful shot of the afternoon on 70 minutes. By that stage, the damage had been done and City were staring an FA Cup exit fully in the face.
The defence, at best, looked shaky and the confidence in the team has been shattered, and to be fair, this isn’t just recently and cannot be put solely down to injuries. City have been like this since their surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Real Madrid, just four days after inflicting the 4-0 thrashing on Everton.
The blues have since been in freefall, losing three straight WSL matches and scraping a draw at United, and Sunday’s lacklustre defeat to Chelsea has increased the pressure further on the manager.
“The first half is where we lost the game,” Taylor said in his post-match conference. “We were in decent control for 20 minutes but as soon as we conceded, it affected us. They were sloppy goals. We gave away cheap goals and were up against it.”
Conceding two goals in the first half is always going to be difficult to come back against, however, City still struggled to make any meaningful gains around the Chelsea penalty area. Taylor felt the second half was more even, but it looked more a case of Chelsea controlling the game and limiting City, as opposed to the blues stepping things up.
That was apparent with the ease in which Chelsea scored their third of the game. The visitors allowed City to tire, before raiding the right wing and delivering the perfect cross for Beth England to head home.
Taylor is confident City will turn things around, but how long will the club give him to do so? City are already 11 points behind leaders Arsenal, and rather than looking up at the top of the table, the fans are nervously looking over their shoulders at the bottom.
Sunday sees City travel to bottom team Leicester, who have lost all five of the WSL games so far. On paper, the blues should win, and anything other than three points at the bottom club would surely spell the end of Taylor’s reign.