Women’s Super League Preview: Manchester City Women’s FC

By Neil Evans.

The fourth season of WSL is now underway. There’s one team that’s been hogging all the headlines in the off season and they finally kick off their season tonight. Neil Evans gives you the lowdown on Manchester City.

With an unveiling and media day, attended by our own Lynsey and Kait, part London Fashion week and part film première, Manchester City Women duly announced in big, capital letters, their arrival for the 2014 WSL season. With no guide or history to go on they truly are the wild-cards in this new era of women’s football.

Blue Moon Rising?

The sky appears to be the limit for these sky blues, a stellar squad, full-time professional facilities and, seemingly, limitless resources they certainly mean business. Even the official website boasts “This is Our Time”- hard to argue with when you look more in depth at their squad.

The new Womens team walks out on the pitch

Manchester City Women are new to WSL – they finished fourth in 2012-13 FA Women’s Premier League

Starting with the boss Nick Cushing, a manager not previously involved in WSL, does have experience and an impressive backroom staff to back him up. And, they DO have a history, having played in the Women’s Premier division and maintained their links with MCFC for over 25 years. And, when it was clear that Doncaster Belles were not going to be allowed to take their place in the new WSL City’s bid for the franchise was accepted and they have began the process of building a team to challenge for honours.

And what acquisitions. Starting with England goalkeeper, Karen Bardsley who arrives from what was Lincoln Ladies, a keeper who has bee there, done it and worn the proverbial t-shirt! She is ably backed up by Welsh youngster Andrea Worrall. Nicki Harding, nicknamed the female Zabaleta, has joined from Liverpool and can also play in midfield. Another tremendous coup for City was tempting new England captain Steph Houghton to move north. We all know how she burst into the nation’s consciousness at the Olympics and that rocket of a shot has, previously, dug former club Arsenal out of many a hole! Emma Lipman and Danielle Lea are versatile and useful defenders that will compliment the experience around them. Chelsea Nightingale adds a local dimension at centre back, being born in Hyde!

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England captain Steph Houghton has signed from Arsenal ahead of Man City’s first season in WSL

Midfield power and stability will be provided by the arrival of Betsy Hassett, New Zealand international and a player who has played in America and Germany, and I know many City fans are excited by the arrival of the ‘Black Ferns’ dynamo. Jill Scott is another player who barely needs an introduction, current England starter and former Olympian and her key role will be to anchor the midfield in that ‘holding role’, using her exceptional passing range to free the front players. Natasha Flint is a useful attacking midfielder, given her first 2 year contract by Cushing, and proves that it’s not entirely about buying in talent – she is very much home grown! Jess Holbrook has joined from Liverpool and, along with 2 Northern Ireland internationals in Kimberley Turner and Lynda Shepherd completes a formidable City engine room!

The arrival of Toni Duggan to lead the attack has caused real excitement. A proven goalscorer at the top level, she has talent to burn and will play for England for many years to come; a real fillip for City and a blow for former club Everton. Footballer, model and role model 8 goals in 14 appearances for the Lionesses shows she is quite comfortable in the limelight, defenders beware! Isobel Christiansen, who is English by the way, has joined from Birmingham and is a tricky, skilful forward and like Duggan is another former U19 UEFA Championship winner. Danielle Young and Krystle Johnston provide a north-west flavour in attack with the former having been with City since 2006 (brief spell at Blackburn notwithstanding).

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Toni Duggan has scored 11 goals for England from just 16 appearances

All in all, from back to front or however you look at City they look a daunting proposition for any side to face. There is quality in abundance and those of a sky blue persuasion will be looking forward to fighting for trophies – they certainly aren’t here to make up the numbers. The big question mark will be can they hit the ground running. Will all these individual parts fit the City machine, as it were? If they do, then they can compete for the title. Regardless there is too much quality to contemplate them having a poor season. The club has been stressing that this is a long term project, but the way the club was launched and the marquee signings bear all the hallmark of a  team with real intent. One thing is for certain, City will bring a new dimension to the WSL.

Prediction: Top 3

Key Player: Toni Duggan

Manchester City get their debut WSL campaign underway tonight at home to Liverpool at the Select Security Stadium.

Check out Neil’s other previews:

Arsenal Ladies

Birmingham City Ladies

Bristol Academy WFC

Chelsea Ladies

Everton Ladies

Notts County Ladies

Follow @swinfan69

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  1. Women’s Super League: What’s going on at Manchester City? – The Offside Rule

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