Skinner: The fire has been lit for next season
Manchester United Women's head coach Marc Skinner believes that his team's league performance this season is just the beginning of a successful future.
The Reds went into the final match of the WSL season on Sunday with a chance of qualifying for the Women's Champions League for the first time. And Skinner's side were also having a huge say in the destiny of the title when leading 2-1 at half-time against Chelsea, who needed a home win at Kingsmeadow to claim their third consecutive championship.
“I felt that Chelsea were scared in the first half,” said the head coach. “What a great statement from us that is.
“In the second half, they had the quality. I think they were sharper than us and that’s something we can’t excuse, but I was proud of the girls. It’s a great marker for us to step forward for next season.”
United Women eventually lost 4-2 to Gemma Hayes' champions and finished the season in fourth position in the WSL, narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification to close rivals Manchester City.
Despite dominating several matches against sides lower down the table, Skinner is aiming for his side to be more competitive next term against the sides who pipped the Reds to the top three places this season - Chelsea, runners-up Arsenal, and City.
“We want to do better than we have done this season,” he declared. “We have done really well and dominated a lot of games.
“But now when we play these [top three] teams, we want to make sure we’re in a better position.”
This season the United Women’s squad has been hit by many injuries, and Skinner praised his players’ resilience to overcome adversity and finish in a strong position.
He said: “I have nothing but credit for them. They’ve been magnificent.
“The fans have been magnificent and there’s just so much positivity around us. There are [so many] positives to build on and give us that real springboard going into next season.”
Looking ahead to next term, the Reds’ boss issued a message to his players and supporters.
“The fire has been lit and now it’s time to work,” he said. “We will work, we will work tirelessly, and we will drive and drive and drive for success, until we have nothing left.
“I love the fans; I love the energy they bring. The players will match that, and the club will continue to match that.
“We have a very special group of people that support us, and we are going to give absolutely everything going forward to match, to drive and to push everything we have to get success.”