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Members of Manchester United Women at the team launch.

Behind the scenes with United's women's team

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A 5am start, boxing, a gruelling morning of pre-season training and an eight-hour media session: it’s all in a day’s work for Manchester United’s women’s team.

The 21-strong squad - who only met as a group for the first time last week - arrive in Stretford after training for the club media day, ready to don the world famous red kit for the first time as United players.
 
Split into three groups (defenders in one, midfielders in the next, with strikers and keepers together in the third), all the various demands put to them are completed with smiles on their faces... unless the request comes in to put their game-face on! From posing for official headshots to reenacting their signature celebrations (for GIF purposes, of course), there is an excitement that is contagious and a professionalism that is impressive.
 
Though not on the field just yet, there’s a palpable, steely focus amongst the squad and a togetherness many long-established teams would be proud of, as the newly-assembled squad laugh and joke with each other in down-time between activities.

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The entire squad have been itching to get started and couldn't hide how much they have enjoyed being part of the club so far.

“We’ve had a couple of days of pre-season training already and I can already see the standards are up there,“ reveals centre-back Amy Turner. ”Even days like today, it’s so professional and everything’s done properly. I can’t wait to see where this club goes. I’m really excited to get started now.”

Forward Leah Galton echoed the thoughts of her new team-mate, saying: “The first week has been really good. I didn't think it would be this easy to get to know the girls but we've gelled well together already after three or four days. One of my aims this season is to get to know everyone really well, both on the field and off the field.” 

Millie Turner feels the players have already got to know each other well and cannot wait to see how far the team can go. “We've only known each other for about a week so, taking that into consideration, I think we've all gelled so well,” she said. “Everyone around us at the photoshoot was saying we look like we've been mates for years. Everyone's just so excited and can't wait to get started. The journey is just going to be incredible and we're going to make history.”

Fellow midfielder Mollie Green added: “There are a lot of good personalities in the squad and good people behind the players. I knew quite a few of them before I came here but I'm really excited to meet everyone and to see what they're bringing to the table.” 

Handpicked by Casey Stoney and her team for their character, talent and winning behaviours, they are clearly enjoying being a part of this journey from the very beginning. For some, it is a return to the club they have been dreaming of; the likes of Katie Zelem, who joined United aged eight, re-signs as a 22-year-old having won Serie A with Juventus last season and back-to-back FAWSL titles with Liverpool in 2013 and 2014.

For others, it is an opportunity they just couldn’t turn down. Established England players Siobhan Chamberlain and Alex Greenwood – United’s captain – add significant domestic and international experience to a young squad eager to hit the ground running.

“It’s the biggest club in the world,” states goalkeeper Chamberlain. “I don’t think there really needs [to be] any second thought as to why you should join Manchester United. It’s an incredible opportunity. I think most female footballers around – if given the opportunity to sign for United – would bite your hand off.”

England left-back and new United captain Greenwood cannot wait to get started, but behind the excitement is also a fierce determination.

“To lead Manchester United into what could be greatness is an honour,” she says. “Now I want to lead this team and do it the right way. I’ll be an honest captain – I’ll give honest feedback – but also expect it back.”

#MUWomen: The new devils in townVideo

“There are many goals but, for the team, ultimately, it’s to get to WSL1,” Greenwood stated. “First and foremost, that is the goal and we’ll take it from there. It’s going to be exciting.

”The girls are buzzing. It’s such a fantastic thing to be a part of. Like you said, we’re creating history as we’re speaking. To be a part of that is exciting and the future is just so bright for me and the team.

This will be a season of many firsts: who will make the first starting XI, score the first goal, hat-trick, keep the first clean sheet? Every member of this squad will be a part of Manchester United history and they can’t wait to get started.

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