By David Charlesworth, PA
Marc Skinner is bemused at the lack of praise for his Manchester United side even though they head into the last Women’s Super League game of the season with an outside chance of winning the title.
United head to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon two points behind league leaders Chelsea, who will be crowned champions for a fourth successive time if they defeat relegation-threatened Reading.
However, even if the final day unfolds as anticipated and United settle for a runners-up spot, it would still be their highest top-flight finish, in a season where they reached the FA Cup final for the first time.
Just five years after being reformed, Skinner believes United gate-crashing the established order of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal should be more widely recognised by those following the game.
“We’ve been exceptional this year and I don’t think we get enough credit, I really don’t,” said the United boss.
“There’s always a caveat as to why we’re successful. That is other teams’ injuries, other teams maybe not having the run they wanted and having Champions League and I get that. It’s a factor we will have to look at but I just feel the players have been exceptional this year.
“It’s not about where we finish in the league right now, that’s not the over-riding factor. We’re growing up in front of the public eye whereas other teams have already done that. I feel this team in a pressure cauldron not only have performed well but won games of football.
“We’re still in contention to win and if we don’t we finish second but to do that and disrupt the historical top-three, that is a big, big season regardless of what’s happened elsewhere.
“I want people to give this team and the players the credit they deserve.”
Aoife Mannion will miss out this weekend after tweaking her knee while blocking a shot in training although Skinner is confident the Republic of Ireland defender will be fit for the World Cup.
“We’re hoping so, that’s the plan,” said Skinner, who will also be unable to call upon Maria Thorisdottir because of the Norwegian’s foot injury.
“There’s nothing structurally wrong. She won’t be in at the weekend but we’re hoping in a few weeks, she’ll be back.”