Manchester United manager Marc Skinner addressed the media on Friday ahead of his team’s WSL clash with Everton on Sunday.
Skinner, who has seen his team get off to a flying start in the WSL but struggle in the Conti Cup, revealed the latest team news, spoke about Everton strengths, as well as individual players like Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Vilde Boe Risa.
“Ona won’t make this game. We get her again on Monday, she’s having her [concussion] symptoms looked at, but should be good. We’re just maybe over cautious with her, quite rightly for the safety of the player.
“Aoife [Mannion] is the only other one out, and then Alessia [Russo] and Grace [Clinton] are back in contention for the game, so that’s great news. Barring Ona and Aoife, everybody else is fit and raring to go.”
“I’ve been really impressed by the way [Everton] have started. I think they give you opportunities to attack them [but] I’m really impressed by what they’re trying to achieve with the ball. They keep the ball moving simply and they progress up the pitch as a team.
“That’s always difficult and there are going to be periods in this game where we don’t have the ball. They potentially be susceptible to some transition but you’ve got to earn it and what Everton are making you do is earn any victory or result. I watched the Chelsea game – it’s a great example at home as well. There were big moments for [Everton] in that game and Chelsea were just ruthless on the counter attack.
“We have to be focused for the whole game and have to be at our very best to get the result. I think on paper it is the hardest game [we’ve played so far] but I think that underestimates the teams we have played prior to this. We just know we’ve got to be very good to be in a position to win this game.”
“One thing: we’re not a selling club. As a club we choose to make decisions on who we sell if we need to at any point. Just look at our window just gone, then doesn’t look like a selling club to me. It looks like a club that is actually bringing seven players in, so it’s definitely not a selling club.
“I’m not going to comment on [transfer rumours]. We know what we’re doing behind the scenes to try and keep Alessia here. Alessia is absolutely happy with what she’s doing. If we weren’t happy with Alessia, she wouldn’t be considered for teams or playing. She’s a great person who is really, really professional, a great player and someone we want to look at.
“What people probably don’t realise is negotiations just take a little bit of time. It’s not as easy as waving a magic wand. But I know the interest of us is to keep Alessia at this club and I can make sure that the fans know we’re definitely not a selling club.”
“I’m sure we’ll wear black shorts. We’ve listened to our players and we’ll be looking at wearing black shorts. For us as a club, the players and the feedback off the players is hugely important.
“For me, the psychological comfort of the players to be able to play so they can deliver the best of their ability. We’re a player centred club. You still have to be balance and be the lead, but we will definitely be part of that looking at what our players need. It’s definitely something we are looking into and I would imagine [a decision] will be made pretty soon.”
“We’re going through the period now of trying to increase competition in our team, which means you want to give people opportunities that deserve it. Our players that have come into the cup games have absolutely deserved their opportunities to play.
“If we look at the three we’ve conceded [in the Conti Cup], they are three goals we shouldn’t have conceded – they are three set-pieces where we make individual mistakes. That is something we can control. Durham, the other night, are never going to win the game if we didn’t allow them moments to. What it gives me is still that control in league and cup.
“I was really happy with our energy [against Durham]. I asked our players to go out and give absolute energy and their counter press was good.
“This is not an excuse because I don’t want to give [excuses], but to play on the pitch where it’s different. When you play on a 3G pitch it becomes more difficult. Durham are brilliant at playing on that pitch and are a very tough team on it.
“The result was probably the most negative thing [from the game], but actually I enjoyed the way our players put themselves out and showed a lot of qualities. It would be easy for me to say because we lost the game on penalties, that I’m really disappointed [about], but I was really pleased with their energy and if we take that into Everton there is no reason why we can’t continue out unbeaten run. But we know how hard it’s going to do be, this is probably our toughest games.”
“Ella, just by the fact that we’ve been working together for a year, she’s naturally going to grow up and become more mature. I’ve been impressed with her growth over the last year, absolutely.
“You probably won’t even judge that because you see her as a player with the ball, but even holding positions longer, the right position at the right time, if she loses the ball she reacts quicker than she ever has done before. I’ve been impressed with those little things that builds a player.
“If you imagine something as simple as she loses the ball because she’s a player that risks it, her counter press…if that’s quicker then we got more opportunities to play and she creates more opportunities for us to score.
“I was impressed with her finishes in the last game [against Brighton]. But there’s loads more to come, she’s only going to get, with time, more mature and game experience and I hope she can really terrorise defences for a long time.”
“There’s no doubt about it, picking the team is the worst part of my job. Vilde absolutely has the quality, there’s no one denying that. What I’m asking of Vilde is to continue developing the physical side of the game.
“What is important that we have variations, connections and combinations of players that complement each other. It’s just making sure we’ve got the right complementary unit together so that they can help each with their strengths and can cover any weakness for each other.
“With Vilde, it was a great goal [against Durham], a really lovely, tender finish, which is what we asked at half-time…you don’t need to slash at the ball like we were, you just need to give it that relaxed finish. She has that ability.
“Vilde will be important in the games that are coming up, but what I’m stressing is whatever other teams throw against us, we must have an answer. I’ve tried to recruit to have the answer.
“That’s not always going to be that every player plays every minute of every game. Tactically, now, we can change the game, which is really exciting. At this moment, Vilde has put herself in a great space, but we knew that. Now, it’s about continuing that quality.”
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