Arwen Moses reports for Impetus from Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner‘s media conference ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup clash at Lewes (16/3/23).
Above: Manchester United boss Marc Skinner backs his team to bounce back from a frustrating outcome at Chelsea when they travel to Championship side Lewes in the FA Cup. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA.
Marc Skinner’s Manchester United have made it to the Quarter Final of the Women’s FA Cup, and they are determined to do whatever it takes to get their hands on the silverware.
The Red Devils face Lewes, who currently sit seventh in the Championship at The Dripping Pan on Sunday, and will be looking to regain their winning ways following a loss to Chelsea at the weekend.
In that match, United went down to a goal from Sam Kerr in the 23rd minute. The game was marred by controversy with criticism directed towards the referee. Despite the initial disappointment, Skinner believes that the side have learned from the encounter.
“In all honesty, in the two days afterwards, it was like I couldn’t really get my head around it, it felt like a bit of an injustice. The reality is that games come thick and fast and you have to move forwards. Chelsea were missing a few influential players but they had quality in that team with internationals everywhere.
“I felt like we handled ourselves really well. In those big games, there are only slight moments and they can balance the game. In this one, these didn’t go in our favour. That’s the most dominant that we have been against a Chelsea side and the trends are definitely heading up.
“It’s hard to beat a team like Chelsea when they have a deep-block formation. The reality was that we tried to push to get a result from that game, but it didn’t work. We need to support the referees in being full-time,and being paid to really look after their craft. We are moving to a professional model but our referees aren’t moving towards this professional model.
“Technology can help support decisions, but for me, it’s frustrating. You can choose how you react to moments. At this moment, we don’t want this to be the deciding factor. The one thing that we can do about that is go into the next games and give our absolute all to try and win them. Hopefully, that is an indicating factor on where everyone finishes.
“However, reality is that in these big games, you need people to make big calls, and we didn’t get them on Sunday. We should be making our officials full-time, and then looking to use technology around that.”
The Manchester United boss was confident that there would be no consequences of lingering frustrations amongst his players ahead of the trip to the Sussex coast. “The great thing about our team is that I don’t have to do much preparation. They are already hungry and they are wanting to pounce on any opportunity that they get.
“The energy in the group is really good. If I look at the last times where we played Chelsea, we played them four times. The first game was six (goals), then four, then three, and now it is one. That game was our best performance against them. I feel we are turning the mindset in those games and we are performing at a better standard and at a better quality.
“We are expecting a higher standard from ourselves. Our sole focus will be our performance in this fixture. We are very good at that. The players take credit for parking it, and moving forward.”
The upcoming fixture has raised some concerns from Lewes, with the team writing an open letter asking for equal prize money for men and women in prestigious competitions such as the FA Cup. Due to their impressive cup run, Lewes have gained £45,000. If their male counterparts completed this achievement, they would take home £450,000. Skinner supported this call for change and commended the Championship side for raising these questions.
“As someone who came from grassroots as well, I commend Lewes for their open voice and for raising it as an issue. We will never change anything unless we raise the issues that we are going through. I support the growth of women’s football and I support Lewes’ message about how we can continue to grow.
“I commend all the girls from Lewes and everyone from behind the scenes who have worked towards equality and equity because we are part of that. I support the message that we keep growing the funding which is coming into the game. It needs to go to teams who need it as well as the teams who are competing at the top level.”
Ahead of the game, Skinner is confident that his side have prepared thoroughly. “We have looked at all their games and how they play. We look at how we can play against them and expose them. This helps take away the ‘banana skin’ potential. Anyone on their day can get fortune and get some good play, but we need to create enough momentum and chances for us to score in the game.
With crucial end-of-season fixtures ahead, it can be said that Skinner’s side will face continued pressure following the cup clash. Ahead of this pivotal period for the side, Skinner will continue to prepare and adapt.
“There may be changes in terms of personnel. We have a really fit and healthy squad right now that we are looking to utilise. I would imagine that everyone will be kept on their toes, and everyone has to perform at the highest level. There will be adaptations with personnel and tactics, but every game for Manchester United is a big game and we don’t treat anybody differently.
“We are trying to push and progress. We are trying to play for the Champions League, compete for leagues, compete for cups. We are pushing towards that. If we do win, then it puts us a step closer to us being able to win a cup, so we will give absolutely everything.”