‘We have to perform,’ insists Marc Skinner ahead of Manchester United’s WSL trip to Brighton

Addressing the media on Friday, Manchester United manager Marc Skinner emphasised that ‘this is a game you have to earn,’ as he was aware of ninth-place Brighton and Hove Albion’s potential.

The Red Devils find themselves facing one of their longest away trips in the league, as they head to the home of the Seagulls – Broadfield Stadium – and it’s certainly not going to be an easy test.

‘Brighton in my opinion, are a very good team,’ explained Skinner, ‘it’s going to be a tight pitch. Late kick off and all of these factors have to come into account, we’ve got to hit the ground running.’

Skinner’s side have started the season unbeaten, and currently sit fourth in the league table. However, he recognises that there may be some hurdles which the team will need to push through.

‘I’d love to be top and unbeaten and win every game, but that’s not the reality, that hasn’t happened. So we have to take where we are at, because we want to win.’

‘I will be very pleased if we perform like we did against the other teams throughout the whole of this season, and if we do that I’ll be happy against Brighton.’

However, the Red Devils need to take home the three points to ensure they remain in the title hunt this campaign – and despite the Seagulls’ unfortunate form so far, the United boss knows what they can be capable of.

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‘We played there last year and scored late to secure the game. Mel [Phillips] came in and it was close in the cup game. If we go and don’t create, and let Brighton play their game, and we allow them to get into their rhythm, then this could be a game that you don’t get points from.’

‘I just think it’s taken a bit of time, I think Mel knows exactly what she wants and I’m sure she’ll get the team to exactly where she wants,’ he said. ‘I think it just takes a little bit of time like it does for anybody when they’re transitioning into a new style.’

With a late kick off this weekend, the Manchester United boss expressed his opinion on the effects this will have on the growth of the women’s game.

‘If you want to grow the game, the timing slots for availability for fans only is really important. It’s all well and good being available for TV which we all want and we want to grow that, but we also want an atmosphere in the stadium – that’s what makes the performances what they are. I would say hopefully in the future, we can look at what that looks like for accessibility to fans.’

United’s trip to the South Coast is their furthest away trip over the course of the WSL season. This, alongside a late evening kick off, brings major difficulty for fans to commute to the game to support their club. 

‘It’s difficult because the travel back knocks into the week. For us, it’s the fans and I think it’ll be interesting how many fans will be at the game,’ Skinner said. 

‘I’m sure for local fans with a 18:45 kick off, you’re probably deterring some of the smaller, younger fans who want to see their heroes or players they want to be like in the future.’

Skinner emphasised the importance of performance when it comes to a game that could go either way, and in a league like this one, there is no certain winner in any fixture.

‘I’ll be clear, we don’t look at other teams’ results. If you only judge your confidence on top results, then you’re not doing something right because it’s also about performance.’

‘When I watch other team performances, it’s a lot closer this year. There is no team that smashes and grabs and then defends for 90 minutes, they’re always creating chances. I think we’re gonna see different scorelines, and different variants in scores.’

Skinner went on to say that ‘these are the types of games where you have to collect three points. We go in there to try and collect three points. We don’t believe we deserve to get anything unless we earn it, and this is a game you have to earn.’