‘We built a squad for the Champions League,’ says Manchester United’s Marc Skinner

Speaking to reporters just hours after his side comprehensively dispatched an Everton side at Leigh Sports Village, Manchester United’s Marc Skinner expressed a cautious optimism ahead of the Red Devils’ match against West Ham United on Sunday.

The boss was keen to highlight how close the Barclays Women’s Super League is this season, explaining that he ‘felt that West Ham against Chelsea maybe could have got something on another day, but then I look at Bristol [City] beating West Ham – there’s so many ifs, buts and maybes. I can’t, for the first time, go ‘this is a definite result’ and I think that’s strength and testament to every club in the league.’

He acknowledges that a draw against Brighton had the potential to derail their campaign, adding that the players ‘were disappointed against Brighton because we allowed them to get into a position where they could counterattack us, they were blocking, they were high pressing. We could have been a lot more intelligent in that build.’

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But after deploying a heavily-rotated side against the Toffees on Thursday, Skinner has been presented with a ‘welcome’ squad selection headache – as players including Nikita Parris and Phallon Tullis-Joyce shone in the Conti Cup. He’ll be without Irene Guerrero and Aoife Mannion against the Hammers though, but otherwise boasts a fully-fit squad.

‘We deserved it last night,’ says Skinner. He’s right – a seven-goal thrashing with five different goalscorers doesn’t happen by fluke. ‘We built a squad for the Champions League but now we have to take that into different competitions.’

Skinner appreciates that West Ham United have bolstered well too, singling out Riko Ueki and Viviane Asseyi as ‘really positive additions’ to Rehanne Skinner’s side. ‘I think they’ve recruited pretty well given she didn’t have a lot of time to do that. They won’t be happy with the Bristol [City] result but they’ve been playing really well so I think they’ll be as dangerous as other teams we’ve played so far.’