Pre-match thoughts from our head coach & skipper

Manchester United Women’s head coach and captain have shared their thoughts ahead of Saturday’s historic clash at Old Trafford.

Casey Stoney and Katie Zelem both look forward to the team’s first encounter at the Theatre of Dreams, reflect on the loss to Arsenal last time out, assess West Ham United’s strengths, discuss the WSL’s new TV deal and much more, as part of our official matchday programme.

We’ve included a snippet of both columns below - but to view them in full and gain access to more not-to-be-missed pre-match content - you can check out the full programme in here.

Let’s hear from Casey and Katie…

Press: It's a great honourVideo

CASEY’S COLUMN

“The stadium might be different on this special day, but the target remains the same: a victory to keep us in the chase for a top-three finish in the WSL.
  
“It’s an early kick-off, and as much as this match is an important moment for this team, I have to see it as just another game – and one we need three points from. Everyone wants to play at Old Trafford, of course, but it’s my job to pick a team to win. 

“It’s a change of surroundings from Leigh Sports Village, but we haven’t trained any differently this week to how we would for a normal home game. Well, apart from the fact that we’re now based at the Aon Training Complex until the end of the season, which has given us the ability to train more effectively. We’ve been there a couple of weeks now, and while we’ve had to modify a few things due to the current protocols, we’re getting there. 
Our last game, away to Arsenal, was bitterly disappointing. I didn’t think we played badly – it was the lowest possession Arsenal have had under Joe Montemurro – but we needed to turn that into chances, and turn those chances into goals. How we went in at half-time 1-0 down, I’ll never know. 

“The key message was to stay in the game as long as possible, not concede, wait for them to come out – as they needed to win – and then capitalise, but the early goal put us on the back foot. We need to do better today against a dogged West Ham side. 

“I’m sure you fans are massively disappointed to miss out on the team’s first game at Old Trafford, but the way I see it is that hopefully this is just a dress rehearsal for what’s to come. We can play today without the expectation from the fans, but then we do it again. And next time we make sure we get a record crowd for a women’s game in this country, because if any club can do that, it’s this club.”
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Our time is now.
KATIE’S COLUMN

“Saturday will be a proud moment for every one of us (especially the childhood Reds!) and the future is starting to look even brighter for the club we love.
  
“It would be fair to say that today means quite a lot to me – l’m not the only one in the squad to have come up through the United youth set-up as a kid and be a United fan – so it’s a huge occasion. 

“I’ve trained and played at a few other big stadiums – we all remember the game at City last season – and I can’t wait to see our team do the same at Old Trafford, and hopefully get back to winning ways against a well-organised West Ham side, who will be out to cause us problems from set-pieces.
“Although third place is now in Arsenal’s hands after their win last week, anything can happen – we’ve got five games, they’ve got six, and we’re facing similar teams. We were deflated after that defeat, of course, as we knew a positive result would have kept third place in our hands, but there’s still a lot to play for.

“One really good piece of news this week was the announcement about the WSL TV deal, with Sky and BBC both showing games next season. I must have read every single article about it! It’s such good news as I think accessibility to watch games makes a big difference in getting new people into sport, and it’s almost like a cycle: a huge company invests, which can lead to better facilities, pitches and general standards, and that can increase finances across the game and hopefully have a snowball effect.”

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