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Casey Stoney talks about ‘surprise’ signings for Manchester United Women’s team

Casey Stoney was announced as Manchester United Women’s head coach just over a week ago and already seems to have got started with her new role. Despite United’s new women’s team not playing in the top flight of women’s football next season, playing in the second tier, Stoney felt that recruitment would be much harder than it was. United and Stoney have already agreed on 17 players joining the tea, with the new season starting in August. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Stoney said:

“I thought the recruitment process was going to more difficult because we’re not in the top-tier, so I thought that would be a huge challenge for us. 

“But because It’s Manchester United and because of the plans and the visions of the club and what we can do for the women’s game and the profile of the players it has been a bit easier than expected.”

When Manchester City restarted their women’s team and entered the Women’s Super League top-tier, the club were able to poach the best players from a number of clubs and Stoney, on becoming the United Women’s head coach, has been able to approach players from other clubs in a way most clubs are not able to do, seemingly doing what City had done, but depending on the names she has been able to sign, may not be as big as what City had done. Stoney confirmed:

“Obviously I know the game, I have been in it a long time. Whereas other clubs might have to go through agents I go straight to the player because they know me.”

Stoney confirmed that her side will have some players from the top-tier of the WSL along with players who have represented United as girls but had to move on because of the lack of a women’s team at the club. It shows that United, despite entering in the lower tier of the WSL have the will to succeed and become a top-flight team in the women’s league, which shows the dreams and aspirations of the club – to want to achieve. Stoney stated:

“We have tried to get experienced players because when you are building something you need them, but we have also gone for some really young and exciting players. We have a good blend and each year we will try and strengthen and make sure we can compete.

“I have been relentless in trying to recruit the best players and we are going to put them in some uncomfortable positions and really push them to develop. I can’t ask players to drop down if I can’t make those promises to stretch and challenge them.”

The United Women’s team will be based at The Cliff, United’s historic training ground of which the first team moved out in the early 2000s to head to Carrington, where the Aon Training Complex is located. Many will wonder why the women’s team are not able to be located in the same place. United have invested a lot of money to regenerate The Cliff, which will always be a place when it comes to talking about the club. The women’s team will play their games at Leigh Sports Village, where the U23s play the majority of their home games. Stoney said:

“I am happy with it because we can do what we want when we want. I have been in women’s football a long time and as women’s team, you will never take precedent over the men’s team. They are discussing plans to expand Carrington and the reason we’re not there is because they just don’t have the capacity for any more teams.

“But our team will be part of those expansion plans. They’re investing £1.2m at The Cliff and it’s a building full of history and tradition so to have that as a base is brilliant.”

Despite being part of Manchester United for just over a week, Stoney feels part of the family already and is hoping to pick the brains of first team manager Jose Mourinho in the coming weeks and months as she looks et get United’s Women’s team started and on their way to victory. Concluding, Stoney said:

“I’ve not spoken to him yet but I’m sure I will do in the future. I have been at the training ground a lot but the men’s team are having a break, but when he’s back I might be lucky enough to have a chat and pick his brains. 

“The reason I took this job is because they told me they don’t do anything unless they can do it properly and already they have fully integrated the team within the club and I have been at a lot of clubs where that hasn’t happened.

“We want to build this team and put them on a platform where they can be successful. We have a team now that I think is good enough to try and get up within the first season and that’s what we’re trying to do.

“These are the first 20 players ever in history to represent Manchester United Women’s team on a professional level. They’ve been given the shirt and it’s up to them to keep it.”

It is clear that United want to succeed with both teams in the future, able to say that both the men’s and women’s side are top-flight teams and both winning things. There is obviously a long road ahead for both teams right now, more so for the new women’s team as they have not played a competitive match yet. It seems like it won’t be long before United announce who they have signed for the women’s team, which at the moment adds a bit of excitement as to who will don the Manchester United women’s shirt at the start of the new season.

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