Say it quietly, but Manchester United already own the best home record in Barclays WSL history.
United have only dined at the top table of women’s football in England since 2019 and have yet to successfully crack an established top three that has been a closed shop for seven seasons. But their win ratio in WSL home games is better than Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
United have won 73% of their WSL home games, all but two of which have been played at Leigh Sports Village, now an unexpected fortress on Greater Manchester’s western outskirts. The other two games, both wins, have taken place at Old Trafford.
That is 22 wins from 30 home games as a WSL club, including eight home wins on the bounce. United recently started this season with a thumping win over Reading and have beaten West Ham, Brighton, Everton (Old Trafford), Leicester, Tottenham, Birmingham and Aston Villa at home since Arsenal claimed victory at Leigh in November 2021. Across those eight wins, 28 goals scored, one conceded.
“We’re very strong at home and we like to put that onto [an opponent]. Hopefully we can dictate what goes on,” manager Marc Skinner said this week as his team look to make that 23 wins from 31 when Brighton are the next side to visit Leigh on Sunday.
Part of that is the atmosphere on matchdays. Although a relatively new addition to the WSL, United fans have fast established a reputation as some of the league’s most vocal support.
With a host of player flags adorning Leigh’s terrace, the singing and chanting is unrivalled elsewhere in the WSL and it makes playing there somewhat unique.
“They’re a really passionate group of people and to have that on your side on a matchday, it really can push you on and I think it’s intimidating for other players to come and play against,” United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps explained in a 90min interview last season.
“When it’s loud and you can’t hear anything, it’s relentless. I’ve not played against it, thank God. Touch wood, I don’t have to.”
Ella Toone echoed those comments when she also told 90min: “The fanbase we’ve got, we’ve had them from the start and they’ve grown in numbers over the years. They go to every home and away game and they’re so loud and have their chants. They’re so passionate about the club and about us as players. Every time we step out onto that pitch, they’re our 12th man.”
It was away form that eventually let United down last season as they slipped out of Champions League contention in the finishing straight, having dropped 10 points from winning positions in the final 15 minutes of games – twice against 10 players.
But as they navigate their way through 2022/23 with a stronger squad than before, seeking to tweak the weaknesses that caused them to fall short last season, United have an incredibly solid foundation at home from which to build.
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