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Nick Cushing’s side kicked off the 2018/19 campaign with a positive result last weekend, winning on penalties in the Continental Cup season opener at Birmingham, and are driven to clinch more silverware this season, after a trophyless 2017/18 campaign.
The skipper asserts her side are hungrier than ever to achieve success and have recognised the areas for improvement.
“Once you get pre-season out of the way, you just want to play games,” Houghton told ManCity.com. “For us, to have the pre-season we had, going to America and playing some very good teams, was great preparation.
“Obviously, we want to be fighting for all four competitions.
“We were disappointed at the end of last season. We just tailed off right at the end. It was unfortunate timing but we know the only people who can solve that is ourselves.
“We know we have to be better and we know other teams are getting better at the same time. Our focus is to be the best team we can be by being more together both on and off the pitch, fighting for each other and having each other’s back as well as brining the natural quality we all possess.
“Of course, we want to be successful but there is a massive process to that. We have to make sure it’s spot on from the moment we arrive at training to the moment we leave, and in the weeks leading up to games. We need to be the best-prepared team in the league and the Champions League.
“We have a lot more to give – there’s a lot more to come from our team – and we know we have to keep raising the standard every single day in training to make sure it comes out on the pitch.
“I think we need to add a bit of a ruthless side to us. In the Barcelona friendly, there weren’t many chances for either side but we took ours when they came.
“We want to continue to keep clean sheets too – we’ve had two in two games now and we want to carry that on. We want to be a team, which is hard to break down, and clinical when chances arrive.”
Houghton also spoke of the importance of squad depth. City added five new faces over the summer – Lauren Hemp, Gemma Bonner, Tessa Wullaert, Caroline Weir and Janine Beckie – to enable squad rotation during busier periods of the season.
The skipper herself had to undergo surgery on her knee too, accompanied by a period of rehab – alongside her wedding preparations, no less – but explained she now feels ‘fitter than ever’.
“It was a mad few weeks!” she laughed. “I didn’t have too much time off, trying to manage rehab while getting married at the same time! That was the best day ever.
“I needed to get my knee right and thankfully, I’ve done that. I feel as fit as I have ever done. After rehab and physio treatment here, I really feel happy and eager to kick on.
“We have a great bunch of girls, who want to do well for City. We’ve brought in some new players, who are very good people as well as very good players. They’ve really settled in well and added a lot of quality. They’re great additions to the squad.
“Squad depth is vital for how successful we want to be and we all have a role to play – whether you’re starting, coming off the bench or you’re a sub.
“You have to be ready to make the difference and support your teammates. It’s important that no matter what, you give everything to can to the team so we can be the best squad we can be.
“It’s vital to have players who are fresh and ready to go. We’ve brought in five new players and I’m sure that with each training session, the quality will get better and better. We have to test ourselves every single day.”
City host Leicester on Sunday afternoon (3pm) in the second Conti Cup group stage clash. The Foxes earned promotion to the WSL 2 last season and the skipper has warned against complacency, from previous experience of facing Midlands outfit.
“Some of us have played them before for other teams so we know that they will want to work hard and make life difficult for us,” she previewed.
“When it comes to how we want to play, we need to improve on last week’s performance and get better control of the ball, making sure that ultimately, we’re creating chances and keeping clean sheets.
“We have a lot to improve on but at the same time, we’re in a really good position fitness-wise.
“We pride ourselves on playing well at home, in front of our own fans. We want them to come and see good football.
“It’s going to be a tough season but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
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Nick Cushing’s side travelled to Birmingham in the first Continental Tyres Cup group stage clash of the season, but after 90 minutes neither side managed to find the net.