Skinner's pre-match interview: West Ham (A)

Sunday 25 September 2022 10:13

Manchester United Women’s head coach Marc Skinner has urged his side to back up last weekend’s season-opening win with a performance that can build momentum against West Ham this afternoon.

The Reds head to the Irons’ Chigwell Construction Stadium in the WSL (15:00 BST) looking to make it two wins from two in the new season, following last Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over Reading. 

Despite that, our head coach says the Reds are under no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge that awaits later, against a side that also enjoyed success on the opening weekend. 

Marc has underlined the fact that United will have to be at our best to take maximum points in any fixture across the division this season, in a league where “at any time, anyone can win”. 

The boss gave his thoughts on the WSL’s opening weekend and why it was a reinforced "warning" to every team about the quality across the league, this afternoon’s fixture, reuniting with Kirsty Smith and more in an exclusive pre-match interview with club media, which you can see in full below…
Skinner: The energy has been great Video

Skinner: The energy has been great

Check in with United Women's head coach Marc Skinner in the build-up to today's WSL meeting with West Ham...

Marc, let’s reflect briefly on that magnificent season opener last Saturday, I’m sure the morale in the squad has been great this week?
“Yeah, look, we were devastating for the first half and Reading came, they had a very clear game plan to come and stifle us and then counter attack and Reading, I’ve always found a very difficult team to play against. So, all credit to the girls, we started with real energy, commitment to what we’re trying to achieve this year. Second half, we would like to be better, we want to be as consistent as we were in the first half, but Reading changed their strategy and tried to destroy what we could do. But the energy was great. In our pre-game meeting, we always have a five-minute meeting, the girls came in and I left them for about 90 seconds because the energy, the way they were vibing off each other, the conversation, was so good. I reminded them of it at the end of it rather than stop them and start the meeting. So, that showed where they were at and it was a really positive start from us.”

There’s always been quite a good vibe in the squad and that was obviously clear at the beginning of that game…

“It is and you see their connections. And we’re forming new ones because we have new players but all credit to the players, they did exactly what we asked of them in the first half, they did so well, and the game was done by 35 minutes. You know as a professional team, you should never feel like that, and I don’t think we did, but, second half, we tried to keep probing, we could have scored again. So, all in all, it was a really positive start and more importantly, I think I was really pleased with the clean sheet. The clean sheet is important.”
There were a few debuts handed out as well, especially Maya Le Tissier, you must be pleased with the impact she’s had already…
“I am and my job is to stay balanced, the whole reason we signed Maya was because we see that talent and all the work Brighton have done beforehand, all the work she’s done with her family getting herself to here. Our job is now to take her on a step and keep progressing her. It was a great start. I’m pretty sure if you’d have asked her if she’d have kept a clean sheet and scored two [she’d have taken that]. Her dad came up too, he surprised her, so that was a really nice moment. She’s great, but it’s a good start and that’s all it is. We want to keep getting down to work and focusing on the next game.”

We spoke to Millie Turner earlier this week, she’s delighted to be back on the grass, back in the team. It must be like having a new signing…
“It really is and I think what Millie gave to the team [against Reading] was a real solid kind of aura. She played the ball at the right time, kept them calm at the back, communicated very well, and these are simple things that we sometimes overlook. But she gave that calmness to the backline, it’s great to have her back and her energy is great anyway – anyone who knows Millie knows that she’s got a great energy.”

Onto this week now, how has training been and are there any fresh injuries?
“No fresh injuries. Grace [Clinton] had a little bit of a throat infection so missed a couple of days training, so she probably won’t travel with the squad this week, which is fine. Rachel Williams continues to progress on the field with Aoife [Mannion]. Apart from that, everyone else should be fit and raring to go. Again, energy has been great, we’ve just finished a session out there (on Friday) and they were excellent in that, [it is] a good kind of progression from last week.”

Skinner provides United Women's latest team news


The Reds have a fresh doubt for Sunday's trip to West Ham, while there's also updates on our longer-term absentees.

We face West Ham on Sunday, how important is it to build on last week’s result and develop momentum?
“The most important. We have to put back-to-back performances on again and continue to do that. If we’re serious about what we want to achieve this year, our players have to be in a mode where we go into West Ham – difficult environment to go into, they’ve just won there so it’s going to be a difficult game – [and] we have to show our qualities and find ways of winning that game too. I know how difficult it’s going to be, and we say this every week but I think it shows… when you look at the Chelsea result and the Manchester City result last week, nobody would expect that. So, it was a warning to everybody in the league that at any time, anybody can win in this league. So, we have to do everything we can to control the performance and put that into trying to win the game.”

One of our newest signings could be playing against their former team, Adriana Leon, is that something you consider? Does that give her extra ammunition in her mindset?
“I don’t consider that in terms of, there’s no nostalgia in the decision-making process. You would consider it but it won’t be a factor in my selection for this weekend. Dri’s quality will be a factor in my selection for this weekend because she has lots and lots of great, great qualities and that’s the whole reason we signed her. She’s going to be great for this club. What we’re trying to do is make sure everybody has a growth moment and then we can see that and put them in at the right time. We have to do that for our forwards, we’ve got a lot of quality in that front line now. But Adriana, should she start, or should she come into the game, I’m sure she’ll give absolute quality for this team because she’s a quality player.”

West Ham have also got a quality set of players, including former Red Kirsty Smith. Does that help you prepare, knowing how they are likely to play?
“Unfortunately, not because they have used different systems in pre-season, they changed their system against Everton last weekend too, so no, it doesn’t. We know Kirsty Smith and it was right for Kirsty in this moment to get more playing time but she’s a great player, a great girl, so I’m sure before and after the game, there will be moments where we can share a hello, but actually in the game we have got to do everything we can to try and exploit West Ham. We have to stay focused on what we can achieve in this game and that is to put the best performance in to get us all three points.”

‘I almost think they’re louder on away days!’


United Women’s forward Alessia Russo is looking forward to seeing our travelling support at West Ham on Sunday.

It's now ended up being our first away game of the season, are you excited to get back out on the road?
“We are and we know the fans will be there in full voice as they always are. But again, we will need them because we are not expecting to go to any ground this year and be comfortable in what we’re doing, we have to earn that right and the fans’ voice behind us has to be that extra impetus as they always are. So, I’m looking forward to hearing them on the road as well. They were magnificent [against Reading], the fans that turned up to Leigh Sports Village made it a real great event for all of us and I think that spurred the players on. They felt the energy, especially when they got out of their cars. All of their fans were waiting for them and cheering them, and I felt that energy and that’s what they continued into our meeting and into the game. So, we’re going to feel their energy against West Ham, use that energy and try and put the best performance in.”

I was going to say, are you looking forward to hearing them on the road, but do you think, after the Euros especially, we’ll start to see many more fans both travelling and going to see the home games?
“We’d love that. One thing I love about our fans is that they sing their hearts out anyway. We want more fans to keep coming and we want to keep growing but our away fans definitely have the loudest voices [of all away fans], so we want to make sure we can feel that, use that and put that on West Ham.”