Zelem: We’ve grown as a team
Manchester United Women captain Katie Zelem believes that the Reds have developed well this season, citing the first-half performance away to the eventual champions Chelsea on Sunday.
The Reds were ultimately defeated 4-2 by the Blues, who clinched their third consecutive WSL title, but Zelem was thrilled with the way United Women performed before the break.
“Could [the first half] have gone any better?” she said. “Going in 2-1 at half time, I think we couldn’t have asked for any more.
“When we came out for the second half, we knew they were going to come out flying. They had everything to play for so for us it was about holding on to the lead for as long as possible.”
Despite the hosts overpowering Skinner’s side in the second period, Zelem lauded the desire and work rate of her team-mates.
She said: “I think you could see we left everything out on the pitch. No matter what the result today, I know that throughout the season we’ve given everything.
“I think you could see in glimpses of that performance that we are a team to be reckoned with. There are lots of positives to build on for next year.”
United's supporters were full of voice on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the capital, cheering on the Reds as the campaign concluded in an enthralling clash with Emma Hayes’ side.
Zelem expressed her gratitude for the backing the fans have given the team all season.
“I just want to say a huge thank you,” the midfielder said. “[Our fans] travel home and away for us and it’s like having an extra player. We are so appreciative of how much they do for us, and we just can't thank them enough.”
Reflecting on the season, in which United Women finished fourth in the WSL table, the England international feels the Reds have made plenty of progress.
“[This season has] been hugely positive [in terms of] growth to be honest," said Zelem. "We’ve had new players, a new manager and a lot of changes going on.
“From our first game of the season to the last you can see how much we’ve grown as individuals, but more importantly as a team. I think that’s so important going into next season."
She added: “We want to be lifting trophies, we want to be fighting for titles, so [watching Chelsea lift the WSL title] gives us the fire that we want.”