‘I apologise if I’ve caused offence,’ says Marc Skinner after controversial UWCL qualifying views

Marc Skinner’s press conference ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Everton was largely dominated by his midweek comments about the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification path. The Red Devils failed to reach the group stages of the tournament, having drawn 1-1 against PSG at Leigh Sports Village before falling to a comprehensive defeat at the Parc des Princes – with that second leg featuring numerous refereeing mishaps.

Just minutes after the final whistle blew in Paris, Skinner stole the headlines after venting his frustrations – both to the club’s own MUTV channel and to reporters in the post-match press conference. ‘We deserve to be at this level, I’ve no doubt about that,’ Skinner said.

‘There are teams going through to this competition that are not good enough. Our standard is better than that standard, and it’s crazy that we have to play PSG at this qualifying round, crazy. And it needs to be something that’s addressed.’

‘It doesn’t work. And if something doesn’t work, you should look at fixing it. What I mean is there are other teams in other leagues, Wolfsburg have gone out tonight, they were in the final last year, mad, that can’t happen right?’ 

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But the Manchester United boss sought to offer clarification to reporters on Friday. ‘I want to be clear on this,’ he said, ‘because people are always trying to sensationalise my words.’

‘I’ll take us out of it – last year, you look at Manchester City v Real Madrid. That is a game that should be for at least the group stage. That’s not a game that should be a qualifier… I look at Arsenal v Paris [FC]. Obviously congratulations to Paris FC for going through because they’ve had to beat Arsenal and Wolfsburg, but really if they’re showing that level, then they should be in the group stages.’

‘People are sensationalising because they think I’m talking about Manchester United,’ he bemoaned, ‘and I’m talking about this competition being the very best level of women’s football from a club’s perspective.’

‘I apologise if I’ve caused offence, he added, keen to express that his intention was not to belittle the achievements of other teams. He offered a potential remedy to the situation too, adding that ‘[removing coefficients] would be a better solution, but I would still say that there are more than 16 teams at that level.’

Manchester United’s defeat against PSG, coupled with Arsenal’s loss to Paris FC last month, means that Chelsea will be the sole English representatives in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season.