Vilde Boe Risa stakes claim for more regular Man Utd chances

Jamie Spencer
Vilde Boe Risa has seen her international career hurt by a lack of playing time for Man Utd
Vilde Boe Risa has seen her international career hurt by a lack of playing time for Man Utd / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Manchester United midfielder Vilde Boe Risa has been crying out for a proper chance this season. With competition for places so stiff in a much-improved squad, the Norway international has been limited to just 52 minutes across the club’s eight WSL games so far.

In United’s last five league games, Boe Risa has been afforded just nine minutes.

Ella Toone recently spoke about the high standards in training and the usual starters being pushed on by the rest to keep performing or risk losing their place.

That has been the problem for Boe Risa this season. She has shown in the past that she can cut it in the WSL – nominated for last December’s PFA fans’ player of the month award – and there was hope that she might get more opportunities following the September departure of Jackie Groenen.

But displacing Toone in a ‘number’ 10 role or either Katie Zelem or Hayley Ladd slightly deeper has been close to impossible due to the form of all three. Toone in particular has really stepped it up in recent weeks, while Zelem has been remarkably consistent and in the form of her life, and Ladd’s physical attributes and midfield engine are not really matched by anyone else.

That was what made Wednesday night’s game against Everton in the Continental Cup so important for Boe Risa to get an opportunity and stake her claim for more meaningful minutes going forward.

She absolutely took it, getting forward from midfield to score in the first minute and then doubling her tally less than 20 minutes later as United raced into a 3-0 lead.

“It’s nothing I didn’t already know,” United boss Marc Skinner said to 90min afterwards.

“I have never ever doubted that Vilde has unbelievable qualities. All we keep asking is to keep evolving her game – the physical side and duelling, something we’re working on together,” he added, reiterating a previous explanation as to why she doesn’t often start.

“Her quality has always been there – I’ll never doubt that with her. Her attitude is brilliant, she’s a great person, lots and lots of qualities. I can’t speak any more highly of her, it’s just we’re a competitive team and we’re showing that in our games. Sometimes you have to be patient.”

Speaking to club media on her performance, Boe Risa herself said: “It’s nice to score, I always want to score and I scored two, so really happy about that. I always enjoy playing and to get a 90 is really nice so hopefully get more minutes as we go.”

Ultimately for Boe Risa, a lack of playing time at club level is threatening to hurt her international career with Norway. She was dropped from the squad earlier this season – although later recalled due to injury withdrawals – by head coach Hege Riise, who suggested to the player at the time she might be better suited joining a club that will offer her more game time.

Only a few months out from the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Boe Risa also seemed to suggest during the last international break in comments to Norwegian media that leaving United is not completely out of the question if her situation doesn’t change.

Boe Risa is out of contract at the end of this season, although there is an option to extend her deal by another year until 2024, and the ideal for both parties would be to stay together. Longer-term, that will of course hinge on the player getting chances, but at least with a standout performance this week she has now pushed herself right into contention for more as the season progresses.

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