Skinner: United are out to end Conti Cup run on a high

Johnathan Stack was in Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner‘s media conference ahead of their last match of the year when, weather permitting Sheffield United visit in the Conti Cup (16/12/22).

Above: Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner revealed to the media that he does not see Sunday’s game as a dead rubber. Photo: Manchester United.

Manchester United play their final game of 2022 on Sunday, as they finish their Conti Cup run with a home game against Championship side Sheffield United.

United can no longer qualify for the knock-out stages as Liverpool hold the spot for the best second-place team.

Marc Skinner’s side lost to Aston Villa and Durham on penalties and picked up a 4-2 win over Everton last time out.

The United boss spoke to the press ahead of the game, as he reflected on his side’s group stage exit from the tournament saying “I am [frustrated], but sometimes you must take a punch in the face to appreciate not getting another one in the future.

“Unfortunately, in life, you learn most from the defeats. It was the nature of those [games against Aston Villa and Durham], I don’t want to relive them too much. They were two games we were winning and then drew and lost on penalties.

“It was the penalty shootout factor that stopped us going through. We played Everton and beat them 4-2 and they were arguably the best other team in the group along with Villa.

“It’s just about learning. I had a lot of new players, and it was a chance to get them minutes – not that they hadn’t earned them. It was just maybe a lack of cohesion at times, but I would hope that we learn from that going forward.

Above: Action from Manchester United’s win over Everton in the Conti Cup earlier this season. Photo: Manchester Evening News.

“I place no undervalue on this competition at all. I would love to win this competition. But the reality is to keep a team fresh for all the games, I needed to make sure I had rotation opportunity. Unfortunately, we didn’t get through, but next time we’ll make sure we try and fix that.”

He also spoke about how United are going to approach the last game of the year against Sheffield United saying “This is a big indicator for us. It’s a game that has no consequence in terms of qualification, but it all the consequence in terms of attitude.

“As a group, we have a choice. Do we put our product and the way that we want to play on every single game? Or do you want to not be successful?

“For future success, we have to put all our energy into putting on a really good performance and making sure we show a professionalism in every moment on the field.”

Skinner was also asked whether despite being knocked out of the competition already if this game is a must-win for United, he said “For us, every game is a must-win, right?

“I don’t really need to look at what Sheffield have and haven’t done [in terms of recent results]. I’m sure when they come and play against us, they will put their best efforts forward because they want to finish the year on a high, they’ve had ups and downs.

“It’s about our mentality, how we want to approach games, and our choices. In this game, we choose to put all our energy into it and give absolutely everything. These players, whether they’re fighting for three points or not, they’re fighting to get into a competitive team. So, it’s really important that they put that out on the field and show us everything they’ve got so that it makes it difficult for me to select the teams going into the New Year.”

Skinner also told the press team news ahead of the game saying he could rotate the team for Sunday saying “I think everyone will be available to pick from. We’ve rotated in this cup before. What I might look at the weekend is potentially bringing a couple of the youth players in, to maybe birth them and give them an opportunity. That depends on [having] a lot of players that are waiting to play anyway. “I can’t think of one yet that is a doubt for the game.”

Manchester United play Sheffield United this Sunday at the Leigh Sports Village and are back in WSL action against Liverpool on 15th January 2023.

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