Manchester City Women will be without five key players for their Women’s Super League opener at Everton on Saturday, but manager Gareth Taylor remains excited at the challenge of getting off to a good start.
The WSL begins a new era as a big broadcast deal kicks into force this season. City’s fixture at Everton, to be played at Goodison Park, will be the first game of the season shown live on BBC One, while Sky Sports will show regular games from the division.
Taylor saw City miss out on the title last year by two points, taking the title race to the last day, and he makes no secret of City’s desire to go one better this year.
“If you’re going alone on the activity by a number of teams, a lot of teams are having a good go. It makes for an exciting league, I thought it was last season,” he said.
“For us we need to make sure we give ourselves a chance. We’d love to be able to call upon more of a playing pool. We need to stay in touch, if we can be in touch around Christmas we’ll have a really good opportunity. It’ll be a tough game against Everton, on their home patch at Goodison with a big crowd. It’ll be a tough game. We need to be ready, on the front foot if possible, and we’ll do our best.
“Everton have made a few acquisitions, good players. They’ve got good options. We’ve seen a bit of them in pre-season. Whenever we played them last season they did something different in every game. We’ve got an intelligent enough group to come up against these systems and we have a way of playing it. Being on terrestrial TV is a big one for us, we’re pleased to be a part of and it’s a good showcase to start the season.”
Taylor will be without influential midfielder Keira Walsh and goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck, who will be missing until after the first international break with calf injuries. Prolific striker Ellen White is a major doubt for the Everton game, while long-term absentee Chloe Kelly remains out, and England international Lucy Bronze is still recovering from surgery. Georgia Stanway will only be fit enough for the bench at Goodison Park after undergoing an operation to correct breathing difficulties.
New signing Filippa Angeldahl has not yet been registered to face Everton and looks likely to miss out.
Still, Taylor says their absences provide a challenge to the rest of the squad to take a chance and he challenged City with getting off to a good start in what is set to be a competitive division.
“The title is the aim, when you work at a club like this you want to be competing for trophies, we want that to continue. To improve, get better as individuals and as a club. The levels are improving, there’s been a real push for many teams for professionalising things. It makes for an entertaining season.
“The nature of this league, you don’t get opportunities to lose consecutive games, you do that and that’s pretty much it. You don’t get an opportunity to have an off day, you have to be at it every game, giving it our best. I think it’s more likely to happen this season that teams will take points off one another. You’ve got to dust yourselves down and do your best on every occasion.
“We want to be there, challengers. There will be a few this season. Some teams set a good pace, some tailed off some came late. It’s not just us and Chelsea, there’s other teams who will surprise people.
“With more exposure and crowds. This is why we do what we do, we love the game, everyone connected with football. Everybody loves what we do and people missed a lot of things last season [without fans]. It’s a big step in the right direction with things being viewed more. It’s healthy and if that brings extra pressure then so be it, that’s why we do what we do.
“The players are excited, there’s a degree of unfinished business. We took it to the final game last season, we want to go one step further. We know what it takes, we’ve done it before. We want to be there fighting for titles. That’s what you look forward to working at a club like this.”