Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Lingering Manchester derby moments should ensure WSL masses return

Manchester City's Janine Beckie right and Manchester United's Abbie Mc Manus battle for the ball during the Women's Super League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium Manchester England Saturday Sept. 7 2019. (Nigel French 'It had an edge, it was do or die' - Manchester derby adds spice to WSL, but this is far from the first
Shannon Reynolds | 10 September, 2019, 14:37

Women's football has seen a surge of interest in England since this year's World Cup in France and Saturday's game was only the second City have played at the stadium where the men's team play.

And certainly ticket sales have justified that move with sales of over 20,000 and an eventual attendance of 31,213 with all but the upper tiers of the ground open.

Although the women's game is rightly proud of the levels of discipline and composure shown by its players - there is certainly significantly less play-acting and time wasting - there should be no such thing as a "friendly derby".

"We didn't want to let people down and especially ourselves, so for us it was all about making sure we got on the front foot and took the game to them and we did".

Still, the biggest crowd to ever watch Chelsea remains 45,423 - a record Women's FA Cup crowd which saw them overcome Arsenal at Wembley in 2018.

The total of 62,921 was reached this weekend thanks largely to Manchester City using the Etihad Stadium and Chelsea using Stamford Bridge, rather than the smaller venues where their women's teams usually play, as the men's clubs were off during the worldwide break.

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She does lead by performance and communication and I just think the armband will add to her game, both on and off the pitch.

Having survived an early scare when 'keeper Mary Earps struggled to clear a loose back-pass, the visitors - cheered on by a sizeable contingent in a crowd which dwarfed the previous WSL record of 5,265 at Brighton last season - rose to the challenge.

"We want to do it the right way and we want people to be here for the right reasons". We probably couldn't realistically do that.

While Groenen does not know when she will get to play at Old Trafford - United's women play in a 12,000-seat arena across town - City will be using its main stadium on Saturday for the derby. Man United defender Alex Greenwood and Man City forward Nikita Parris were the latest English women to join compatriots Lucy Bronze and Izzy Christiansen at the winners of the last four Champions League titles, who pay annual salaries well over $110,000.

Birmingham, which finished fourth behind Arsenal, City and Chelsea last season, is among a trio of WSL teams whose male counterparts do not play in the Premier League. "No, because we are in year two", Manchester United manager Casey Stoney said.

"But realistically we will carry on playing at the Academy Stadium and we will aim to fill that 7,000 capacity stadium out first before we even start talking about playing on a regular basis within the Etihad".

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