Marc Skinner: ‘I want that energy, we are going to need it against West Ham’

Returning off the back of the international break, Manchester United manager Marc Skinner spoke to the media on Friday morning as his side gear up for a trip to the capital to face West Ham United on Sunday afternoon.

The Red Devils will head to Chigwell Construction Stadium with an insatiable desire, having fallen to a disappointing defeat in their most recent outing in the Barclays Women’s Super League at the hands of fellow European challengers, Arsenal. Skinner digested the recent criticism that his side have faced, stating that his primary focus solely remains on the outputted performance of his Manchester United outfit.

‘That’s the only reason that we are comparing right, we’re being compared to what we did last season. What I want to see from us is the continued behaviours of how we are on the field, what we are on the Manchester United identity. Pressing, high energy, [a] never say die attitude. No game is always going to go your way, so it’s about how you overcome adversity in games. I want to see that energy, we are going to need it against West Ham – that’s what I want to see.

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Manchester United’s last outing against the Irons proved to be optimally positive, as five different goal scorers found their way onto the scoresheet in what was a 5-0 demolition at Leigh Sports Village. Despite having flown through proceedings with ease last November, Skinner assured that ‘[having] to play West Ham at [their] home is different to having to play West Ham at your home, it’s not just a cliche.’

He continued that ‘the pitch is different, Arsenal went there and dominated in a lot of areas but lost the game. I think you have to play with what the pitch gives you, you have to play against strengths and weaknesses of West Ham. So, what I want to see is a high energy, high transition energy.’

The Manchester United boss provided a fitness update on his side as the players turn in from time spent with national teams, highlighting that ‘Jayde Riviere will miss the weekend, probably too soon for her.’

Skinner also provided an update on the recovery process of the longer term absences, saying that ‘some positive news is I think Emma Watson is straight line running today, so that’s positive that she’s back on the field. Hinata [Miyazawa] is back for her second session today as well. We’re a few weeks away from the others getting back on the field, but it’s really positive having them in and around the group again.’

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The Red Devils return to league action this weekend, following what was an uninspiring performance against Arsenal two weekends ago, as Skinner’s side fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Gunners on the turf of Emirates Stadium.

Despite the loss placing the side in a very precarious position in regards to the race for European qualification, Skinner remained positive that Manchester United will dynamically shift their focus on to their upcoming challenge.

‘I think you can look at it either way. The players went away to do international duty and obviously then played different styles, so it’s about getting them back on board. There are things that we will discuss about the [Arsenal] game, but the reality is that it’s going to be a totally different game against West Ham. You can look back all you want, but we’ve got to look forwards.’

The club released an official statement last week, announcing that their Head of Women’s Football Operations, Polly Bancroft, would be departing the position. When asked about Bancroft’s departure from Carrington, Skinner stated that ‘me and Polly [Bancroft] have a good relationship.’

The United boss added, ‘I think she would be very pleased with the work that she’s done, and we wish her the very best for the next role that she’s taken. Obviously Polly is a very bright and intelligent person, and I’m sure she’ll make success in the next role that she has. For me, I want to thank her for all the work she’s done at Man United, and just wish her all the best.’

Manchester United will travel to Chigwell Construction Stadium to face West Ham United in the Barclays Women’s Super League this Sunday at 15:00 GMT.