United Women: Linking up for goals

Friday 25 March 2022 10:56

“For me, the game is all about connections and relationships,” says Manchester United Women manager Marc Skinner, who encourages such a mindset within his squad.

“If you and I form a really good and positive relationship, if you fail at any point, I can pick you up.”

As Marc is always keen to discuss when he is interviewed, partnerships and relationships are a key part of his philosophy. He knows about their importance all over the pitch, and off it, too.
At the focal point of United’s attack this season have been Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and winger Leah Galton, with the trio accounting for 23 of the Reds’ 49 goals across all competitions so far.
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Ella and Alessia have been key for United in attack this season, making 24 and 25 appearances respectively, and their qualities make the Reds difficult to defend against. Russo’s strength, shot power, aerial ability, hold-up play and passing complement Ella’s capability to find and create pockets of space, her finishing and through balls. 
As well as finding the back of the net herself, assists have been a big part of Toone’s game this season too – to such an extent that she currently tops the WSL charts for supplying goals for team-mates, with seven. The freedom afforded to her in the deeper attacking role and her ability to get away from defenders and create space for herself means she’s often in the perfect position to play in her team-mates. Ella looks to create space either by positioning herself in between defenders or just in front of them, then anticipating and moving at the moment she can see a team-mate is about to release the ball.
A perfect example of this came in our 2021/22 season opener, when Toone produced a wonderful piece of link-up play with Kirsty Hanson, who was playing on the right wing against Reading that night at Leigh Sports Village. 

Picking up the ball midway into the Royals’ half, Toone’s brilliantly weighted through ball sliced through four opponents, finding the feet of Hanson, who had cut into a central position to receive the ball and tuck it beyond Grace Maloney in the Reading goal.

Tickets for United Women's first game at Old Trafford in front of fans, against Everton this Sunday 27 March, are available from manutd.com/womenstickets.