WSL derby against United ‘perfect’ to kickstart Man City’s season, says Taylor

Manchester City Women’s manager, Gareth Taylor, admits to not knowing how much pressure he is under as a result of the team’s poor start but believes Saturday’s derby at Manchester United is the “perfect game” to begin turning around the campaign.

Taylor’s side have won only one of their four Women’s Super League matches and sit a point above the relegation zone, the nadir being last month’s 5-0 loss at Arsenal. City also suffered a surprise 2-1 aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in a Champions League qualifier.

Taylor, asked how much pressure he was under, said: “I don’t know. I try to just focus on the job, focus on the training, work with the players and kind of keep that from them. It’s important to retain a positive outlook and I really do. It’s not a front.

“There’s fine margins between success and failure. And when you look at our games in isolation, the kind of detail and the content within them, we’re not too far away. I saw a stat that even at Arsenal, which I never felt was a 5-0 loss, both teams had 16 shots on target.

“At the moment, we’re feeling the sharp end of it. And this is where we find out who the characters are. But yeah, I carry on as usual, really positive. I know what these players are capable of achieving. I see it every day without the [injured] players that we have missed. I still feel we’ve been a little unfortunate in terms of some of the results that have gone against us.

“But this is why we love the game. It’s not always champagne football and winning the league by three, four clear points. It’s always difficult and a fight against a lot of the teams. We’re suffering with our injury count, we’re really looking forward to getting players back. But for the meantime, we go with what we have, and this is a great game for us, a perfect game.”

Saturday’s early afternoon kick-off will be Manchester’s fourth WSL derby, City winning two and drawing last season’s corresponding fixture with United at Leigh Sports Village 2-2. After finishing second in the WSL and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals in 2020-21, Taylor’s squad has suffered serious injury problems.

The manager had 10 players unavailable at Arsenal and his No 1 goalkeeper, Ellie Roebuck, and her deputy, Karen Bardsley, are ruled out, with Karima Benameur Taieb making her WSL debut in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham, a loss that made it three in a row in the competition for the first time. The captain, Steph Houghton, along with Lucy Bronze, the 2020 Best Fifa Women’s Player, are also injured.

Taylor maintains that morale is not low. “I think it is pretty good considering – you’d expect it to be low and confidence to be a little bit low,” he said. “But actually the players have been really good, the staff too in support.

“We’ve had good conversations about where we feel we can improve, but also not to disregard some of the good things that have happened as well. We understand the situation we’re in; we’re realistic in that respect. We’ve had quite a lot thrown at us. The players have been really positive, really sharp in training and that’s all you can ask for.

“The best way we can deal with the situation is by putting in a performance against United and then move to to the next game. It’s as simple as that. Our league situation doesn’t look so good at the moment but a few wins changes all of that.

“Its a perfect game for us because coaches always say that they never have to get players up for a derby. And it is also perfect if we put three points on the board and that’s what we’re looking to achieve.”