Manchester City Women’s manager Gareth Taylor says the blues should be proud of the way they have turned the season around. The blues beat Everton 4-0 at the Academy Stadium on Wednesday evening to draw level on points with United, who currently occupy the third Champions League slot.
But injuries and surprise defeats hampered the blues at the start of the season and, after beating Everton 4-0 on the opening day, lost their following three matches, with two home defeats and a 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal that made City look more like relegation candidates than title chasers.
A 4-0 home battering by Chelsea was followed by a 2-1 defeat at United in the League Cup, leaving the blues qualification hopes in the balance. But an excellent run of form saw the blues lose just once as they progressed to the League Cup final, where they beat Chelsea 3-1 at Plough Lane.
The blues have won their last four WSL matches, face West Ham in the FA Cup semi-final and will qualify for the Champions League if they win their remaining fixtures and United drop points, as they put their early season woes fully behind them.
Taylor acknowledges difficult season
And the boss has acknowledged the difficulties the blues have faced in a challenging season and says the blue girls should be proud of what they have come through, while praising the mentality of the team.
“I’ve always been proud of this team – even when we’ve struggled. We didn’t overly whinge. There were plenty of excuses we could have made and some were valid, but you find out a lot in those moments and for us to have shown the character, energy and work ethic we have is testament to the players,” said the boss after another thumping win over the Toffees.
“The ground we’ve made up is impressive,” Taylor continued. “I look at the here and now with what players are achieving. In the last 16, 17 games, our record is better than anyone’s and that’s something to be proud of. Everyone has contributed to us being in a healthy position.
“For me, it’s about the football we play. It’s about entertaining our supporters, who travel everywhere, and we’re sending them home happy, feeling good having played entertaining football with the girls trying their hearts out.”
Blues beat Everton once again
City’s 4-0 win over Everton was their 20th consecutive win over the Mersey blues in all competitions and the blues’ 100th WSL win as they moved level with United, and the manager was, of course, pleased with the result, although he did note that the visitors made more of a game of it this time around.
“It was probably the right result. We controlled the play again. We weren’t sure what to expect and it’s always difficult to play against five at the back – to break them down – but there were good bits in the first half.
“Everton engaged in this game more than the last one. We went ahead and then in the second half, we needed to change the rhythm. It was a bit flat, especially in the final actions. Sometimes, you need to slow it down but sometimes, you need to move it quicker.”
Two successive 4-0 victories sees the blues rediscover their goal-scoring touch, which could prove vital as the season starts to wind down and the race for third hots up. Goal difference could be essential, and the blues have scored one more than their red counterparts, but have also conceded three more than United, which gives United a slender advantage.
But the boss is pleased with the way City are finding the back of the net, particularly from corners. “We’re scoring goals – that’s the impressive things. I’ve looked at the stats and we’ve scored away more goals than our competitors – our goals for and goals against are very good. In the last 17 games, we’ve had 11 clean sheets, which is impressive.
“We had two goals from corners – the first and the third, while the second and fourth were good team goals. Keira played a good ball for the first and Lucy drives into the box and cuts back for Ellen, who holds her run with a good finish.”
City face relegation threatened Birmingham City at the Academy Stadium on Sunday, and the fans will be hoping for another three points to keep the pressure on United. Birmingham look destined for the Championship, and are rooted to the bottom of the WSL, having won just one match all season and are eight points from safety.