Skinner's matchday Q&A: Reading (H)
Manchester United Women head coach Marc Skinner believes that his side must be at their best to overcome Reading today, despite a record crowd being expected at Leigh Sports Village.
The Reds faced the Royals at home on the opening day of last season, with United running out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Kirsty Hanson - now on loan at Aston Villa - and Ona Batlle.
But despite doing the league double over Reading in 2021/22, Skinner maintains that his squad - bolstered by seven summer additions - will need to be at their best to continue their recent successes over the Berkshire side.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated WSL curtain-raiser, which is due to kick-off at 12:00 BST, the United Women boss sat down with club media to discuss our opponents and his ambitions for the season ahead.
So, why not start your matchday with Marc's exclusive interview? You can see it below...
Skinner previews Saturday's season kick-off
"There's been a real positive energy this week," says United Women's head coach Marc Skinner ahead of our WSL opener...
Reading at home, at Leigh Sports Village, and it’s going to be a record crowd. It's a great place women's football is in, isn't it?
“It’s amazing. When I watched the games at Leigh in the Euros and it had those numbers, it felt amazing and it looked amazing. Our fans have shown with their feet and their bodies that actually ‘look, this is how important our women’s team are.’ I want to create an absolute fortress at home. For our players, for our fans, for any team that comes into our environment you know exactly what you’re playing against: That Manchester United spirit. That is something I want our fans to keep coming. We are going to do our best on the field to give you something to really get behind and love to support and inspire the next generation. But that’s a true sign of Manchester United fans. We are voting with our bodies and our feet that this is where we want to be and this is what we want to see. It's great.”
What a game for the fans to come and see too. What do you expect from Reading in this match?
“It’s just funny that it ends up being the same game that we opened last season, and that was a tough game. Kelly [Chambers] and Phil [Cousins] always bring a really resolute team. They’re adapting again, they’re evolving again. Their team will be slightly different this year, but it will have no less quality; in fact, probably more. It is important that our team are at the best. We have to be right on the edge. I know it’s a lot to ask [in the first game of the season] but we have to be right on the edge. If we want to take this game and prove who we are, our players have to be right on the edge of their performance and ready to take a physical battle, a mental battle, a tactical battle. But then after that, once we’ve got to that [stage], our qualities can show. I have no doubt this team can hurt any team that we play against, any team, no doubt. But we have to be right at our game and that’s what I’m going to expect of our players this weekend. To play against a really, really tough opponent and make our fans really proud of the work we are doing.”
How are the team, what’s the team news?
“We’re in a great space, which is what we wanted. Two will be missing. Aoife [Mannion] is a bit long term. Rachel Williams won’t be available for this game. I think we said last week she took a knock in training, but she’s progressing nicely and hopefully in the next two or three weeks she’ll be back on the grass with the girls. Everybody else is vying and challenging each other for a starting place, and that’s brilliant for us. It’s going to keep us right on the edge of our competitive nature which is going to be needed for this game.”
What can those Reds fans expect to see from your side in this game, and in this campaign?
“As we grow, I want to see more fluency in the way we attack. I want us to be more exciting in our one-on-one situations. I want us to be a team. I’d love our fans to see a team that works in possession and out of possession in all the transition moments. You can get behind a team that does everything for their crest, for their club, for what they believe in, and for us I want to see the most together team. I said the same last year, but I want to see the most together team. What we’ve done with the people we’ve added in is we’ve added the quality moments, so we can take more of those quality moments we create. We created a lot of opportunities last year, [but] what I now want from my team is to continue that but to be the most competitive together team in this league. That’s what I want our fans to see and [I hope we are] able to translate onto the pitch on Saturday.”
COME TO SEE UNITED WOMEN
Tickets for United v Reading in the Women's Super League today at 12:00 BST are on sale to all supporters, online, via tickets.manutd.com, and hospitality seats are available in shared executive boxes.
Coach travel from Old Trafford to Leigh Sports Village can also be booked in advance.
CAN'T MAKE IT TO THE GAME?
Don't worry if you are unable to attend LSV, as the match is also being shown LIVE on MUTV. Our coverage of the fixture begins at 11:30 BST and MUTV is the best place for you to see highlights of the game, as well as exclusive interviews and much more.
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