Welcome to the latest edition of our digital Women's matchday programme, as we ignite our 2020/21 Continental Cup campaign with a home group stage clash with Everton.
The game is available to watch live on CITY+ - sign up and don't miss out!
We head into the game on the back of a fantastic week, in which we booked our place in the 2019 FA Women's Cup Final and returned to winning ways in the FA Women's Super League with a superb victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Wednesday's encounter kicks off the fourth competition (of six on offer) this season. As the first major piece of silverware we won, the Conti Cup will always hold a special significance for the Club, and there's added intrigue in this midweek match-up as it sees the FA Cup Finalists lock horns before we meet at Wembley in November!
Previewing the game, we hear from Gareth Taylor and Steph Houghton, while Chloe Kelly also shares her feelings on facing her former club.
Meanwhile, Janine Beckie outlines her personal hopes for the new season, admitting she's relieved not to be competing with Lucy Bronze for a spot at right-back!
Plus, Gemma Bonner tells us all about her friendship with Caroline Weir, we take a look at our opposition (with plenty of familiar faces on show!), and we hear the latest from the Manchester City Women Official Supporters Club.
Up for the cup and ready to rock...
A WORD FROM THE BOSS...
Hello, City fans.
We have another big week ahead with more tough tests. First and foremost, we look to Wednesday night in the Continental Cup, where we face Everton, who have had a decent start to the season. It's a different competition but it's a game we're looking forward to before we then return to FA Women's Super League action at the weekend with Sunday's trip to Chelsea.
Every game is important and there are no easy games - there don't seem to be any 'gimmes.' You have to turn up, you have to be at it. We have to maintain our level of performance - we've had consecutive wins now and we've played some good stuff with elements of some very good play.
We took a bit of time to find our rhythm against Tottenham Hotspur and we made a point at half-time to make it easier for ourselves, making better decisions in the final third, and in the second half, we played some exceptional stuff. Even when we made the substitutions, it didn't deter from the performance, which can happen, and it was really pleasing to see everyone do their bit.
There's real competition in the squad now - that's what we wanted - but we're in the midst of a busy period and this is where the importance of squad depth comes in. We'll manage each player on an individual basis.
There will be some good performances and some not so good performances but it seems we're clicking now. We just need to worry about ourselves and stick together in the good and bad moments.
Nothing is a given in terms of results - each game is difficult and you can't underestimate anyone. I imagine there'll be a lot of different outcomes with most teams playing three games in six days - a lot of teams will take points off each other. Everyone expected us to win at home against Brighton and Hove Albion but the league is very tight.
That's down to huge improvement by a lot of teams. Previously, it's been something of a 'mini league' between us, Chelsea and Arsenal with head-to-heads determining what happens - but there's been a lot of transfer activity this summer, which has been great in making the league competitive and gives us even greater challenges in all competitions.
I hope we continue our recent form and start our Conti Cup campaign as we mean to go on.
Enjoy the game.
What a treat this is: three home games in a row! That's not a luxury we have very often and we're really enjoying it.
We know those away games are just around the corner, starting with Sunday's game against Chelsea, but we're not looking that far ahead just yet - we have a game to win on Wednesday first!
It's another big game - they all are when you're ambitious like we are - and as players, we're loving this run of fixtures. I know some people don't necessarily view the Continental Cup in the same light as other competitions but it's a competition that means a lot to this Club and ultimately, it's another trophy we can win!
We're going to fight for every trophy and whoever steps out onto the pitch will do everything they can to get the results we need. We have a really tough group with Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United and it's important we start well, although it's going to be a real test.
Everton have had some great results - they've had three wins from three in the league and they've reached the FA Women's Cup Final, beating Chelsea on the way, so they've shown what they can do.
They're well-organised and when we played them in pre-season, we had to play really well to beat them. They're a great club and they're trying to make a statement on both the women's and men's side, trying to build and compete for the trophies on offer. Having more clubs take that step makes everything more competitive.
They're also really good at developing young talent, which is something we're passionate about at City. Of course, it's important to bring new recruits and big names in - from England or abroad - but to be able to have that youth element and keep players at clubs for a long time is also key.
It's something we really value. Look at Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Ellie Roebuck, Esme Morgan, Jess Park, Lauren Hemp and now Chloe Kelly... We have to make sure they play as much football as they can so they can learn along the way.
It's an exciting time for everyone and we're raring to go. We're in great form and full of confidence. Our new signings have settled in now and we've had a lot of time together to work on the gameplan, which we're seeing come to fruition now.
We have the quality and the attitude. As long as the processes are in place and conducted right, and that we're all singing from the same sheet, trying to win games, we'll give ourselves a chance of achieving what we want to achieve this season.
Come on, City!
Janine Beckie epitomises the definition of a ‘team player.’
Selfless, hard-working and fully committed, the Canadian's dedication, flexibility and positive attitude have proven key components in the City machine, since the 26-year-old arrived in Manchester in 2018.
With an optimistic, friendly and helpful personality to boot, she’s equally cherished off the pitch.
Beckie understands the bigger picture, and she appreciates how the small details can spark a positive influence. Sacrificing her personal opinions or desires, she consistently puts the needs of the team first, doing whatever it takes to help the squad to achieve success.
Last season, the forward was thrown into a completely new experience with unfamiliar territory, utilising her excellent versatility to cover at right-back, when Aoife Mannion sustained a long-term injury.
Although she had her doubts, she jumped into the challenge with both feet, and now believes her spell in defence enhanced her overall game, providing a new and useful perspective.
However, with the summer signing of a three-time Champions League winner and 2019/20 UEFA Player of the Year nominee (plus the return of youngster Esme Morgan and encouraging progress in Mannion’s recovery), Beckie admits she is happy to step aside and let her teammates move ‘right-back’ into the spot!
“I loved last season – it was great – but I don’t think I’ll be expected to play there this season, although I have an open mind,” Beckie explained.
“The competition is decent in that position! Lucy Bronze and Esme Morgan have that locked down and we’re incredibly excited to be having Aoife back soon so I don’t think I’ll be needed!
“It was an eye-opening experience to play there. You never wish injury upon anyone but it’s the reality of sport to have injuries.
“It happened and we didn’t have too much depth, and Nick Cushing and the coaching staff decided I was the next best option.
“I wasn’t very confident it was the best idea at first but they definitely made the right decision, challenging me in the right way, and I’m so grateful for that experience.
“Obviously, if something happens and I’m needed, 100% I would step in but with the new signings, we’ve filled some gaps and added some depth, which is really important, especially with the amount of games we’re going to play this season.”
So, what does the 2020/21 campaign look like for Beckie? Where will her versatility take her?
“I’m looking forward to seeing where I find myself,” she declared.
“Gareth Taylor has made it clear to me that he sees me as a player who can play in multiple positions and I definitely see that as a big strength.
“It can be difficult because I don’t necessarily get the reps in some positions like others do but I’m taking it in my stride and going week to week, doing whatever the team needs me to do.
“I pride myself on being a player who can do that. I’m hoping to make my mark as a forward this year, getting some goals and adding to my assist tally from last year.
“It will be a different experience for a lot of players to have a squad with such strong squad depth.
“Players who have been relied upon to play every game in the last seasons may not be relied upon as much, which is a pleasant surprise from a physical perspective.
“To have the quality to swap out players in the squad and not see a drop in level is really special.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
The 2019/20 FA Women's Super League
Golden Glove winner, in focus...
GEMMA BONNER & CAROLINE WEIR
Two of the closest friends in the City squad, Gemma Bonner and Caroline Weir go way back. With the pair having played together at Liverpool, both share a long-standing and treasured camaraderie.
In the latest edition of Teammates, presented by QNET, Bonner opens up on the friendship, including how it transcends onto the pitch, the importance of honesty and her amusing role as mother!
Caz and I have a great relationship. Because we've known each other for such a long time, we have a really good connection - we trust each other, we know when the other is having a good day or a bad day, and we're both there to support each other.
We just get on. We're both so chilled - we do our own things but we try and have a laugh and enjoy life. We talk to each other a lot and she knows I’ll always tell her the truth - if she’s wrong, I’ll tell her; if she’s being too soft, I'll tell her... She knows I'll always be honest because that's the best way - and she honest with me as well.
She knows if she needs anything, I’ll be there to help.
She always tells me I’m like her mum (which I’m not sure I appreciate!) because she knows if she’s in trouble, she can ring me and I’ll help her - and believe me, those situations can be from any end of the spectrum!
I remember the night before a game once, she rang me at half ten at night and I was thinking: 'Why is she calling me at this time?'
There was a leak in her flat and there was a firefighter at the door. She didn't know what to do so she called me, asking whether I knew a plumber! I don't even live in Manchester - I live 45 minutes away!
I'm not sure what she wanted me to do! I guess she thought I could help because I'm a little older and I've been through the process of having a house...? She’s really learning life skills from me at the moment!
On a serious note, having such a close friendship does help on the pitch too. Although we play in different positions, we both play on the left side and although we're quite chilled, we work hard and we have the same thought processes in that we try to get the best of everybody and every situation.
She's an unbelievable player who can do unbelievable things. I always have a great view every time she scores a worldie because I'm positioned behind her and I can see it's going in as soon as it's left her foot! I love it!
You always have teammates in sport but in life, there are not many people you can have solid friendships with, and football can be intense at times so it helps to have someone who understands.
We're both glad we have each other.
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Founded: 1983 (Hoylake WFC)
Nickname: The Toffees, the Blues
Stadium: Walton Hall Park
Manager: Willie Kirk
Division: FA Women’s Super League (2017-present)
FA Women’s Premier League National Division (1997/98)
FA Women’s Cup (2009/10)
FA Women’s Premier League Cup (2007/08)
FA Women's Super League 2 Spring Series (2017)
4 May 2014, Continental Cup: City 1-0 Everton (Flint)
21 May 2014, FA WSL: City 2-0 Everton (George OG, Scott)
21 September 2014, FA WSL: Everton 0-3 City
(Scott, Johnson OG, Duggan)
27 August 2015, Continental Cup: Everton 0-2 City (Duggan, Stanway)
7 October 2017, FA WSL: Everton 2-3 City (Houghton, Parris, Bremer)
5 November 2017, Continental Cup: City 2-1 Everton
20 May 2018, FA WSL: City 3-0 Everton (Scott x2, Parris)
20 September 2018, FA WSL: Everton 0-4 City
(Stanway, Parris x2, Emslie)
21 February 2019, FA WSL: City 3-1 Everton (Walsh, Beckie, Parris)
29 September 2019, FA WSL: Everton 0-1 City (Houghton)
21 November 2019, Continental Cup: Everton 1-4 City
(Wullaert, Bonner x2, Hemp)
11 January 2020, FA WSL: City 3-1 Everton (Bremer x2, Bonner)
Nikita Parris is City’s top scorer against the Toffees, having netting six goals in sky blue against her former club.
Jill Scott also has an impressive record against her former employers, with four goals - the same tally as ex-Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner.
There are plenty of familiar faces amongst the squads.
Jill Scott donned the royal blue of Everton between 2006 and 2013, helping the Toffees to League Cup and FA Women’s Cup success.
In recognition of the 2008 League Cup win, she has a tattoo of the date in Roman Numerals on her ankle!
Alex Greenwood and Lucy Bronze also enjoyed stints in Merseyside, while summer recruit Chloe Kelly starred for the Toffees after signing from Arsenal.
Esme Morgan spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan with Willie Kirk’s side.
Meanwhile, Everton’s Izzy Christiansen wrote her name into the history books with City, scoring in the 2014 Continental Cup Final to clinch the Club’s first piece of major silverware.
Claire Emslie also had a two-year stay in Manchester, while Stockport-born defender Georgia Brougham (currently on loan at Birmingham) played for the Club in our first seasons in the WSL, having represented the Manchester City Ladies team.
Sandy MacIver and Poppy Pattinson both played for City’s Academy.
The last few weeks have seen a few of our Manchester City Women Official Supporters Club members able to join in with Jill Scott and her Girls Soccer School training sessions.
It is fantastic and inspiring for these young girls to be able to be coached by Jill and her special guest coach - our OSC Player of the Season - Lauren Hemp. Here is our member Hannah Roberts with Jill and Lauren.
The last week has seen our 'new normal' continue, as we have held two virtual watch-alongs for the Arsenal and Spurs games, as well as our first virtual AGM meeting.
It is not the way we want things to be. However, it is great to be able to stay connected to our wonderful members and was great to see so many join in online.
MCWFC Official Supporters Club
Q&A WITH → CHLOE KELLY
The in-form forward reflects on a wonderful week,
in which she netted her first goals for the Club...
Chloe, what a week it's been for the team! What's the feeling around the Club at the moment?
There's a real buzz around the place!
We're really starting to kick on with the season now and once games flow like this, you can gain some real momentum.
We're doing well at the moment but we don't want to take our foot off the gas. We need to keep pushing on.
It's been a great week for you personally too. Do you feel you're hitting your best form now - and at a crucial time?
I'm loving life at City!
I feel like I'm finding my feet now - I'm enjoying my football and scoring goals, and hopefully, there'll be many more to come.
I keep working to be better each game and I definitely want to push on now, scoring more and assisting more.
It seems the team are playing with real confidence at the moment...
Yeah, we're really starting to gel and show what we're capable of.
We have belief in our gameplan and we're gaining momentum, looking to improve every week.
The team is clicking very well but we're not at 100% yet - there's still more to come!
Focus switches to the Continental Cup now. How important is it to start the group stage with a win?
It's very important.
We want to win everything this season and kicking off with a win would set us up nicely and give us the best chance to do that.
The group we're in is very strong so we want to hit the ground running from the first game.
Everton have enjoyed a great start to the season. What's it going to be like to face your former club?
I'm glad they're doing well this season - but there'll be no hiding from me!
I'll be going into the game looking for the win, so I'll be focused on doing my job as I always do.
I'm pleased for them but I want three points!
Suppose it will be a good test too for the FA Women's Cup Final...?
Yeah, it will be like a warm-up game for that - but although we're excited for the Final, we're not looking that far ahead.
We have to take each game as it comes and we need a victory in this game.
Whatever the result, there won't be much time to reflect with Chelsea away on Sunday - a game which could prove significant in the title race...
We're really excited.
Everyone knows Chelsea are a strong opposition and we have to get one back on them after the Community Shield!
We're feeling confident and we're really looking forward to it.