Manchester City are beginning to ‘find their feet’ following a summer of high squad turnover, after their second successive WSL victory of the season on Saturday.
City brought in seven new faces during the transfer window, while eight players departed the club on a permanent basis – five of whom had been key members of the first team during the 2021/22 campaign. Gareth Taylor’s side lost their opening two matches of the 2022/23 season, but have taken six points from six following the international break.
Having beaten basement side Leicester 4-0 to record their first win of the campaign last weekend, City got the better of a Tottenham side who took three points off them at a similar stage last season on Saturday with a 3-0 win at Brisbane Road.
“I think sometimes it takes time,” Gareth Taylor said of his new look side clicking.
“And when you add into that the lack of rhythm you get in the WSL because it’s international break it’s maybe one game or two games at most, players go away again it’s really difficult to build those relationships, those bonds.”
One of the new arrivals this summer was Kerstin Casparij, who joined on a three-year deal from FC Twente. The full-back impressed going forward against Tottenham, linking up well with Chloe Kelly down the right wing.
This was complimented by Esme Morgan on the opposite flank who, while Casparij bombed on, would slot into a defensive midfield position.
“I didn’t expect it to gel so well so quickly,” said Casparij. “Obviously with the first two games weren’t good, but now everything’s settling in very well and we’ve really found our pace, found our feet. Especially for me as a new person, with Laia [Aleixandri] as my centre-back I think things just went really well really fast. I feel like I’m in a warm bath, as we say in Dutch.”
Fellow summer arrival Yui Hasegawa followed up her impressive debut against Leicester with another strong performance. With her technical ability and eye for a pass, the Japanese midfielder has slotted seamlessly into this City side.
“Yui Hasegawa was great again. I think the two games she’s played, it’s like she’s been playing for us for the past five-ten years,” Taylor added. “A real maturity to her play.
“When you really look at all the ingredients – I know she’s had experience in the WSL with West Ham – but you’ve got a player from Japan who’s arrived, who’s a smaller player, we’ve slightly changed her position a little bit because I’ve said she’s bright enough to play in all the midfield positions.
“I can’t speak highly enough of her in how she’s come in and how she’s contributed. Her level of performance in two games have been really, really good.”
But for all the comings and goings at City this summer, it was Bunny Shaw – now in her second season at the club – who proved to be the difference against Spurs. The forward shared duties with Ellen White last term, but has made the position her own since White’s recent retirement.
Shaw netted a brace against Spurs – the first a trademark header, the second an arrowed, low drive from the edge of the box – to take her WSL tally to five for the season.
“She is a beast, man!” Casparij enthused. “She is so good. How many goals has she scored now? Five? That’s a lot, she’s doing really, really well. She’s a big asset for us.”
“She’s done really well,” Taylor added. She had a good season last year, people overlook that a bit. I think she’s taken on the responsibility now of wearing the number 9 for this club and she’s a young player, she’s got lots more to come I believe, but she does score goals. She’s proven that previously and she’s proving that here.”