United Women's 2021/22 season in review
Manchester United Women enjoyed a strong first season under head coach Marc Skinner’s stewardship and will no doubt be looking to kick on going forward after securing another top-four finish in the WSL.
Having been in the mix for a UEFA Women’s Champions League spot throughout, the Reds would narrowly miss out European football, with the race for the league's final qualification spot coming down to the last day.
Outside of the WSL, United reached the fifth round of the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the League Cup over the course of the campaign.
A stunning first also came back in March too, as Skinner's side would emerge victorious in our debut appearance in front of spectators at Old Trafford, with over 20,000 in attendance on a special afternoon in M16.
Following an action-packed term, here, we have complied a month-by-month review of the team's fourth-competitive season, with all the key details and moments to look back on neatly compiled...
Skinner's first campaign in charge got off to a perfect start, as he watched his side record an opening-day victory over Reading at Leigh Sports Village. A comprehensive 3-1 win over Leicester City then followed just nine days later, as summer signing Martha Thomas opened her account for the Reds.
A difficult defeat at home to Chelsea was to complete the opening month’s action, with plenty of learning taken from our first three outings of the new season.
Responding superbly following our first loss, Skinner's Reds swept aside his former club Birmingham City in our fourth WSL outing of the campaign, with Leah Galton and Ella Toone both finding the net.
Gareth Taylor then brought our crosstown rivals Manchester City to Leigh Sports Village, as we played out a pulsating draw in which three goals were scored in the final 15 minutes. Our final game of October was our first in the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup, travelling to Durham in a game that was eventually settled on penalties, and won by United.
A superb 2-1 come-from-behind victory against arch rivals City was soon to follow, with Ona Batlle netting late on to snatch all three points in our second group-stage match of this season’s League Cup. A home defeat to then league leaders Arsenal closed out the month with what would turn out to be our final loss for nearly three months.
Registering three wins, December was to be our best month to date. The festive period did begin however with a penalty defeat against Leicester in the League Cup, after a 2-2 draw in normal time. Katie Zelem and Alessia Russo found the net in that one.
Successes against Brighton in the league and then over Everton in the cup came, with midfielder Vilde Boe Risa netting her first goal for the club in the triumph over the Seagulls. A thumping victory over Aston Villa just before Christmas ended the month in style, with ever-present forward Ella Toone netting a brace. Toone would later go on to be crowned the league's Player of the Month, while Skinner picked up the manager's award.
As the new year sprung around, it was to be a good omen for the Reds, who failed to lose a game in 2022's inaugural month. The double was completed over Birmingham in superb fashion, before late drama against Arsenal ensured we progressed to the semi-finals of the Continental Tyres League Cup. Alessia Russo got on the scoresheet in a 1-0 triumph with just five minutes remaining.
A comfortable win over Spurs then followed, our sixth-successive victory in all competitions. United then got our Women’s FA Cup journey under way with a professional display against National League Southern Premier Division outfit Bridgwater United in front of 2,500-strong crowd, in round four. The two home victories in the league saw Skinner named as the WSL's Manager of the Month for the second time in succession while Leah Galton's standout performances saw her claim the players' prize.
Unfortunately, the second month of the calendar year was to feature spirited exits from both domestic cup competitions. Defeat away at Chelsea in the League Cup kicked off February, before a gutsy draw with high-flyers Arsenal soon followed in the league. Alessia Russo netted her seventh of the campaign in that trip to the Gunners.
Back-to-back losses against City came after that, firstly in the WSL at the Academy Stadium, then in the FA Cup, with work still to be done heading into the final three months of the season.
The Reds responded well throughout March, as we began with a resounding win over the Foxes, midfielder Zelem remarkable scoring twice, both from corner kicks. An impressive away victory over Reading was soon to follow at the Madjeski Stadium, before United were forced to settle for a draw against the Hammers just four days later, as Grace Fisk looked to have dented our top-three hopes with a late leveller.
The domestic double over Everton followed however, as we played out a terrific occasion at Old Trafford, emerging victorious in the first chance for Reds spectators to see their heroes in action at Old Trafford. Russo collected WSL Player of the Month, with Zelem scooping Goal of the Month for her aforementioned second goal against Leicester.
April brought just two games as we neared the conclusion of the campaign. Champions League qualification was still in our own hands and that position was strengthened with a home win over Brighton, a sixth Leigh Sports Village success in a row.
But disappointment was to follow, drawing with Aston Villa. Returning Lions keeper Sian Rogers denied the Reds on multiple occasions we dropped important points in the Midlands against a resolute Villa outfit.
As the campaign drew to a close, our penultimate game and final home outing of the 21/22 season arrived with victory over West Ham United, as both Thomas and Galton on the scoresheet. The race for the final Champions League spot would subsequently go to the final day.
The Reds needed a to win at Chelsea and hope for a favour from Reading against City for any chance of a European berth in the last round of matches, but it wasn't to be. City picked up the points that they needed and United would lose to Chelsea in the capital, despite a valiant effort which saw Skinner’s side lead twice. The title would also be retained by Chelsea as a result.
Be sure to keep an eye out across Man Utd.com and our app over the coming days for more information about how you can have your say on the fan-voted Women's Player of the Year prize.
Our dedicated Women's team social media platforms (@ManUtdWomen) will also bring you those details as soon as they as released, and just like on the aforementioned platforms, there you will be able to find all the breaking news, updates and more on Skinner's side throughout the summer.