Skinner: Old Trafford is a wonderful backdrop
Manchester United Women's boss Marc Skinner has previewed Sunday's blockbuster event at Old Trafford, as his side prepare to take on Everton at Old Trafford in the WSL (12:30 BST).
The Reds are firmly in the hunt for a top-three finish and with it, qualification for the UEFA Women's Champions League for the first time. Skinner has assessed his side's chance of achieving that, whilst also looking ahead to what is set to be a momentous occasion at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend.
The 39-year-old has insisted just how important a home crowd can be during the 90 minutes, reiterating that many spectators inside the stadium will get their own first glimpse at seeing some of their sporting heroes live in the flesh.
Read every word from the head coach as we get ready for a day to remember...
Marc, it will be a historic game at the weekend. Just how much are you and everybody else looking forward to it?
"It’s a really strange feeling in terms of there is so much excitement, but also it’s a business event for us as we have to do the business on the field that keeps these fans entertained, so the players are sort of caught in that moment. It’s going to be such a wonderful event for them, for me and for everyone's families, but we're also going to get right down to business and put everything into this performance."
How important is a good crowd in order to support you all?
"I think it’s huge and more importantly, there are going to be people in the audience that come and watch us and become lifelong fans. The fact it affects their lives is not something to be sniffed at. There are going to be women, young girls and young boys in this audience that come and think 'they are my heroes, they're playing where I want to be and I want to be a part of that.' The girls are going to inspire many people to do it. Hopefully then we will continue to grow our fanbase as well at this massive club. So let’s try and grow that too."
"I think that’s the balance. What I would say is that both versions of that are a privilege, and both give us a choice of how we react to it. For us to be playing here, to go out and put on a performance at the Theatre of Dreams is in itself not a pressure, it’s a privilege. Then for us to be in this part of the year where we are competing to be in the Champions League, it's a privilege too and it's because of the work we have done throughout the season so far. What we are not going to do is we are not going to waste a second or waste any energy on anything other than what we need to focus on our performance. If we do that, then we will play as well as we have done all season and that then gives us the best opportunity to win the game. So nothing changes, it [Old Trafford] will just be a wonderful backdrop for us to go and perform in front of people."
"Every day we step closer. Every day we experience something that steps us closer to that moment. We know these teams have been doing it for years now and have lots and lots of experience and obviously quality, but we are growing every day and sometimes when there is a fire for you to do something, there is no way you are not going to achieve it. That’s something our players are reminded of every day, light the fire every day. Every result you get that is not what you want is a fire that’s lit, it fuels everything we are trying to do. So for us, we will get absolutely wherever we need to be but every day we will get that little bit better."
You’ve got a really good young squad, a hungry squad that’s full of quality now and not everybody is going to get the chance to play at Old Trafford. How difficult will that be?
"Football has this weird opportunity of giving you a moment and then taking it away. I won't take these decisions lightly because we know what the event is but we are still here to win the game. The game plan has to be the most important thing and the players know that, they're professional and they’re transitioning to a professional model. For us, if you are not starting, you are as supportive as if you were playing. It’s part of the game, we’ll pick a game plan to try and go out to win the game and then everybody will play their part. Whether you only play a minute in the game, you are still as important to what we are doing."
"I think they [Everton] have had a tough week in terms of having to play Manchester City twice, hopefully that means they come to us a bit tired and a little bit fatigued but either way we know the qualities they have. When you look through and analyse what they do, they haven't perhaps got the results they want this year but that doesn't take away from the qualities that they have. We’ve got to be at our very best and we want to be anyway, that’s what we aim to be all the time. Let’s see if we can add an extra 10 or 20 per cent on that and really start to show the qualities we have."