Marc Skinner: ‘I have no doubt’ that Manchester United ‘will fly again’

Derby action returns to the Barclays Women’s Super League this weekend, as Manchester City host Manchester United on Saturday to kickstart Women’s Football Weekend. With the Red Devils defeated at Old Trafford in November’s reverse fixture, United boss Marc Skinner told reporters that he is ‘happy with where we are at’ ahead of a decisive tie at Etihad Stadium.

Thursday’s pre-match press conference saw Skinner return to media duties following the birth of his second child, after last week’s conference was carried out by assistant coach Charlotte Healy. Player-coach relationships dominated the line of questioning across the league’s press conferences last week, and Skinner was asked for his thoughts.

‘I’ll be very clear, I do not condone player-coach relationships. It is not something that enters my mind and it’s something that is ethically against the sport we are in, and any sport to be honest. I do not condone it in any sport,’ he explained.

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With attention then turning to the task at hand, Skinner recalled the atmosphere at Old Trafford earlier this season. His side were comprehensively defeated on the day, but the Red Devils boss expressed optimism that United’s away supporters can urge them on to victory on Saturday.

‘When we played at Old Trafford, it’s fantastic to play in front of our fans, but it’s one of those where the opponent can use the energy against you. We’ve got to try and neutralise the fans and turn it towards our favour. There is no doubt that the Manchester United fans in that corner – in that pocket that they get – will be as load as they can be.’

Skinner has been heavily criticised for Manchester United’s performances this season, with the Red Devils falling adrift of the race for the title. They currently sit 12 points behind both Chelsea and Manchester City, having taken the trophy battle to the final weekend last season – and understandably, that has raised concerns about the direction the club is heading in.

‘We have no doubts where the project is heading,’ said Skinner. ‘Everyone judges us against last season and we were ahead of schedule on that last year, we were almost perfect and not many teams do that.’

‘I know people talk about our performances this year and have a very short memory about how we performed last year, but if you look into the nooks and crannies of it, we’ve performed well for large spells. If you want to create a legacy, you have to go through the hard times and that’s what it takes to build a successful football team.’

‘Once we get our recruitment during the summer and the next window and when our players are back fit for the whole season, I have no doubt where we will be. I’ve seen it this season, if you’ve watched our games, you can see what’s happening barring some moments where we’ve dropped our levels below our own standards, but I am happy with where we are at. I have no doubt we will fly again.’

Manchester United make the short trip to Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 GMT.