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Has Gareth Taylor Turned A Corner With Manchester City Women?

Blues On Course For Silverware Success

Arsenal Women v Manchester City Women - Adobe Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Manchester City Women are on a roll at the moment and it’s a roll that could lead to silverware at the end of the season. Second in the league, hot on Chelsea’s heels (with their WSL clash coming on Friday), reaching the League Cup semi-final and knocking Arsenal out of the FA Cup on Sunday, it’s an exciting time for our girls in blue.

In the past, I’ve been quite critical of Taylor, often likening him to a turtle on a gatepost - no idea how he got there, no idea how to get down and just waiting for someone to give him a push and put him out of his misery.

A series of abject displays, coupled with poor team selections and a failure to get his best team on the pitch resulted in the blues finishing outside the top three with no silverware and, to add insult to injury, failing to beat United in the league. Rather than being shown the door, Taylor was rewarded with another year on his contract, much to the dismay of many supporters who would rather have seen him replaced.

But in recent weeks, well, most of the season, his Manchester City Women’s side have looked every inch title contenders and favourites to lift at least one piece of silverware in addition to securing their place back in the Champions League.

Eyebrows were raised and questions were asked when Taylor dismantled the squad that had taken them to third in the table. With Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir leaving, it felt like the heart had been ripped out of the side.

The new signings Taylor made didn’t quite gel, resulting in a disappointing season without silverware. The solitary signing of Jill Roord over the summer gave little hope to the faithful that they would achieve anything. However, Roord turned out to be the one key element that has been missing in the City side. Her presence in the midfield, waiting on the edge of the box for a cross or rebound, has been a revelation.

City will have expected to demise following her ACL injury - Roord seemed to be the beating heart of the City engine room and the news that she would be out for the season would be a bitter blow. However, instead of dropping, the blues have just got even stronger, which was evident against Arsenal on Sunday. The defence superbly weathered the Arsenal storm whilst still providing a threat at the other end of the field. It was truly a masterful display by the girls in blue.

It seems now, after a difficult term last time around, that Taylor has finally found the winning combination. Not only that, he is learning how to turn games around. In the past, when City went a goal down or concede an equaliser, heads would drop, players would switch off and we’d settle for whatever we’d got.

But something has changed this season. City are not the team they were - they are now the team they should be. When down to nine against Chelsea, City should have been defending for their lives not to concede a second goal. Instead, they were in the Chelsea half, trying to take all three points. 1-0 against United, they didn’t panic and won 3-1.

And, if they go to Kings Meadow on Friday night and win at Chelsea, it would be an amazing feat for this team that, with a little bit of luck, could run away with more than one trophy this season.

And, if that happens, I would expect the manager to be rewarded with an extended contract at the end of the season, while the rest of us, me included, feast on our words and a huge slice of humble pie. If it means City are crowned champions at the end of the season, I’ll take my words well seasoned!