Women’s Super League team-by-team preview: Manchester United to target Champions League spots this season
Ahead of the return of the Women’s Super League this weekend, NewsChain is looking at each of the 12 clubs involved.
Next up is a side who finished in the top four last season and will be looking to be even more ambitious in the 2020/21 edition of the WSL.
How did they do last season? Fourth place finish
United’s first season in the top division in English football was an impressive one with the club targeting a top half of the table finish before the season began.
When the WSL final placings were announced by the Football Association due to the season being cancelled, the Red Devils sat in fourth place with seven wins from 14 games.
They have not been defeated in the league since January when they lost 1-0 to Bristol City.
Despite their remarkable final placing, they were 13 points behind third-placed Arsenal - a gap manager Casey Stoney will want to close on this season.
Manager - Casey Stoney
Stoney joined United when the team formed in 2018 and it was her first managerial role since she retired from playing.
Since then she has led her team to a Championship trophy and therefore promotion into the WSL, and has a record of 35 wins in 47 games.
Stoney firmly has her eyes on one of football’s biggest club trophies - the Champions League. She told The Women’s Football Show on Sky Sports recently she plans to be at the club for five to ten years and in that time the club should ‘be at the top level, competing in Champions League finals’.
Many have questioned her recruitment over the transfer window and that United may not be able to compete with the likes of Manchester City who have signed Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis.
However, rumours swirling at the moment suggest US stars Christen Press and Tobin Heath are in talks with United.
Key player - Lauren James
While many may look at Ona Batlle as the new exciting player to watch out for, Lauren James is returning from injury and impressed in her first season in the WSL.
The 18 year-old is back in the squad after six months out with a foot injury and despite being the youngest player at United she scored their first goal in the league against Liverpool.
Her skills on the pitch have been noticed by other clubs with talkSPORT reporting that European giants Lyon have expressed an interest in signing the youngster.
New signings and departures
Defenders: Ona Batlle (Levante)
Midfielders: Carrie Jones (Cardiff City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City)
Forwards: Ivana Fuso (FC Basel)
Goalkeepers: Aurora Mikalsen (Tottenham Hotspur), Siobhan Chamberlain (released)
Defenders: Charlotte Newsham (Blackburn Rovers)
Midfielders: Aimee Palmer (Bristol City)
Forwards: Lizzie Arnot (Rangers)
What will they be aiming for this season?
The Red Devils will want to improve on their fourth place finish last season and Stoney will certainly have her eyes on those two Champions League spots.
United’s first game will be at home against defending WSL champions Chelsea.
Last season United lost 1-0 away to the Blues after a Maren Mjelde penalty separated the sides.