Manchester United manager Marc Skinner has said there is no more pressure than that which he and his players put on themselves in the hunt for a top three WSL place this season and the Champions League qualification it brings.
United have been gunning for a Champions League place ever since being promoted to the WSL in 2019 and fell agonisingly short in both 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Skinner was only appointed as a replacement for former manager Casey Stoney five weeks before last season began. His late arrival had a knock-on effect in both pre-season preparations and recruitment and it was clear that United were a work in progress as the campaign was progressing.
Fast forward to now and Skinner has been handed seven new players, having prioritised attacking options to improve the depth that was lacking during his first year.
Asked ahead of the season if being better equipped and better prepared brings any more pressure, Skinner replied: “It doesn’t matter. There is nobody from an outside source who will put more pressure on themselves than these players.
“I set the bar very high in here in terms of what we want to achieve, but I’m also very realistic and I think that’s a nice balance.”
The United boss even spoke about inviting pressure but embracing it as a positive.
“We want pressure. The [England] girls in the summer dealt with immense pressure but in a really positive way, so we can use that. Is there pressure? We want to be in those top places, but we’ve got to be exceptional. It’s not an easy task, there are no gimmes,” he explained.
“The pressure for me should be thriving under pressure. If you lose a game at Manchester United it can be the end of the world so I’m ready to deal with that pressure. I’m here to give my players the freedom to express themselves and use that pressure as a positive rather than a negative.”
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United midfielder Jade Moore echoed those comments this week, calling last season’s failure, the experience gained from it and summer strengthening a ‘turning point’ for the club.
“Playing for Manchester United always brings pressure,” Moore said. “I think you can probably see Marc’s intention from the signings that he’s made of where he thought we needed to strengthen.
“We found out some really key information from what happened last season that we felt we needed to have more strength in depth and that’s probably going to be our turning point this season.
“We start every season wanting to do the best we can possibly do…but if we don’t make the top three it’s going to be a disappointment.”