Skinner: I'm excited to get started
Ahead of his first game in charge - today's pre-season friendly against Liverpool, live on MUTV - Marc Skinner explained his ambitions for our women's team following his recent appointment.
Marc Skinner, Manchester United Women’s head coach, how does that sound?
"That sounds the best, I mean that is only rivalled by me seeing my daughter after such a long period of time or my partner. To have the privilege to be involved and to be the head coach of a team such as Manchester United, it’s a wonderful day in my life. One that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life."
I can imagine now you’re in a position where you just want to get down to business and get on with the job at hand?
"Absolutely. I know some of the players, and for those that I don’t yet know I been watching a lot about them. Listening to the right stories and the right kind of things that I need too, so for me we start tomorrow with the players on the pitch and I can’t wait to get out there and affect them. We’ve got such a great kind of vibe and energy around this club, that I want to galvanize and I want to continue to force it into the direction it needs to be, to be as successful as this club can be, because it has the ability to be the most successful club in the world. For me we have to continue on the great work that’s already happened and already been put in place for some of the foundations. We have to continue to do that, because this club it seeks and wants success throughout its history and we want create that with the women and continue the great work that’s already been done."
"It really is and I think it was a unique kind of situation for me because were at a place where were at a club were we’ve set foundations ourselves and when the opportunity came to be at this club it was just a kind of energy and commitment we know we wanted to put over here and into Manchester United, because it has everything it needs to be successful and we need to redirect a few areas a few energies and then were ready to go. I think for us the challenge of being here, and the challenge for this team to take on the mantle because you know people often say to be at a club like Manchester United there’s an expectation of you and for us I think the players are ready for that, they’ve shown that in the past few seasons, they’ve shown that you know to get to where they are to challenge into those fourth positions and give a real good account of themselves there ready to take that next step and that why where here because we want to take that next step with me."
You mentioned it earlier that there are players here that you know, some familiar faces? Will that help you settle in?
"It will and I think what we pride ourselves on is getting to know everybody very quickly and I think where we will always be is that the people take place over the player, and we get to know everybody as an individual because once we do that we know were in it together. We want to create a team here that is so focused and there’s a synergy there that directs us to where we want to be together. So I’m going to get know everybody individually, inside and out, I want to know what drives them, what motivates them. But also who they turn to when they need a bit of solace, so for us, although I know some of the other people prior, that was 2-3 seasons ago, people change and I want to learn what their journeys have been and that’s were going to start so we can show them how much energy and commitment we have to them to build a real special team here."
Last time you were in the WSL with Birmingham City, you finished fourth and were FA Cup finalists. Do you feel like you’ve got unfinished business in the WSL?
"It’s in the hallways here, everywhere we walk it squeezes success out of the people that walk out the door, I mean just speaking earlier to everybody, I feel the commitment to the women’s game, to grow it even bigger. The women’s game is in a wonderful place and it can continue to grow and were obviously want to be part of that, a leading force in driving the women’s game forward. For me I feel galvanized and super energy within the walls of what were doing here, the fabric of Manchester United’s success, the fabric of Manchester United’s attacking exciting football, so for me that’s what I’m here to do, it’s the whole reason I’ve moved my family ack over to England to do that with this club because it inspires me when I walk round here and just speak too even the cooks earlier who brought our food it’s just feels like home. That’s a wonderful feeling for me to be part of and that’s what I’ll make sure our players feel every day when they walk in the building."
What kind of Manchester United Women’s side can the fans expect? What can they see with you at the helm now?
"One that plays every second for the fans, one that plays every second for the club, but also has togetherness that’s been starting to build. It’s been a wonderful togetherness watching some of their performances and so I want to continue to build on that and I want to continue too to grow on and off the field because I think it’s important that we have a bigger say in where Women’s football is heading and I think that the wonderful women that I get to work with every single day are a great example of people who are professional who drive standards in every single thing they do so for us I think that’s where we have to head and that’s where I’m going to ensure we do head."
"It’s been crying out for it for a long time, the investment in the structure, and now it’s finally here, of course timing might be everything but for us I’m coming back into a league that we’ve been watching from afar and we’ve seen its growth even in its short time it’s been going that we’ve been gone. But for us it was, that growth was always going to happen, coming to Manchester United was whether that was there or not was never going to be the deciding factor, it’s always going to be this club. Its feels like when I need to be in a place, where we know we can deliver, the success that we want, it feels right at this club, and I’m a big person on feeling. It feels like here, we can achieve what we want to achieve because it’s just a club with outstanding support, outstanding expectations and I think that’s what drives you to success and that drives the players to commit everything, every day. That ethos is something that’s going to live strong, and then it’ll just happen to be on social media so you know it’s was always going to happen, but I just wanted to know that this special club is the reason we returned."
If it had maybe had been another club, do you think you would have been a little more reluctant to come back to England because it’s a big decision to move your family all the way across the Atlantic again?
"We had a really bad time during COVID as everybody did, and you know I didn’t see my family for nine months and that was a big factor in deciding what was our next option. But when this became available there was no other option, this was the club we wanted to be at, this is the club that we feel we can meet our ambitions at. As I say from when I’ve been in and around it, instantly I get tingles down my spine because it has an energy and an aura that’s been created way before me, I just want to add to that. But with the players, I just want them to know that were going to give them everything. We are here every day for them too trust to develop them, to make sure we put ourselves on a platform to continue and build on the wonderful success of this wonderful team."
"Honestly I cannot wait, I haven’t coached for two weeks and I cannot wait. My energy is going to be bubbling, they might have to contain me a little bit especially if I have a coffee in the morning! It’s going to be at a point where I look forward to seeing people’s faces and I look forward to seeing smiling people that know which direction there heading in and when you direct a team and you have that, you can feed off the energy of the people and that’s going to be the biggest factor for me, because we like to give energy but we also like to receive it. I already know from having spoken to most of the players, we already get the sense of that and the feedback this week has been the excitement of getting to work with us but I can tell you there nowhere near as excited as we are as with getting to work with them, so it’s going to be a good day, I can assure you of that."
Pre-season starts against Liverpool at the weekend. There’s no better game is there really than United/Liverpool, the old rivalry. It’s a great opportunity for you and your team to put forward your playing style and really get the players used to it?
"Absolutely, there is no better start, [apart from] maybe Manchester City? But in this point to have a kind of building block in place you know we already have things which we think are wonderful with this group that were going to keep but there are also things we would like to adapt and evolve and continue in the way we see it, and that will continue but to start against Liverpool on Sunday is going to be a wonderful place for us. We get to see a quick exposure too how the players understand what we want them to do in an instant and from there we can obviously put the building blocks in place how we see the team playing going forwards. It’s a great start and I’m looking forward to playing that game on Sunday."
When the season comes round, it's Reading at home, newcomers Leicester away and then it’s the champions Chelsea back at home. Three big games to really get your teeth into?
"That's what we're here for, big games. This club wants to be in the biggest of games, it needs to be in the biggest of games. For us, every game is different, the beauty of the WSL is that you are tactically challenged a lot more so we have the exposure to watch and learn and expose ourselves to these different challenges. Reading have been a constant threat the time I was even at Birmingham, and then Leicester have obviously been really successful last year and then you bring the Champions so you know I’m looking forward to every single one of those challenges and I know the players will be prepared and ready for every one of those challenges too."
"Absolutely, and we're going to need them in every way. There are going to be moments when we are not going to be on top top form but we need to win. So we hope that they will drag you with them and give us that extra breath when we need it, and they’ll be the most important thing. For the players I know they talk highly of the fans but for us, they are part of us and we talk about the twelfth player, there in the squad. So we've got a big squad going away to these games and playing so I can’t wait to invite them in."
Congratulations on your appointment here, Marc. We are all delighted to have you here and the very best of luck to you and your team for this campaign.
"Thank you very much and I can’t wait to get out on the field and get to work with everybody and be part of this wonderful family because ever since I’ve been here its felt like that and for me it’s going to be a special place, and hopefully we can build special things here."
Marc Skinner was speaking to Steve Bennett.
MUTV's exclusive live coverage of the women's friendly match between United and Liverpool begins at 11:45 BST today (Sunday 8 August).