Nick Cushing says the current City squad is the hungriest he’s taken charge of since becoming manager in 2014.
City lost experienced stars Nikita Parris and Jen Beattie in the summer but Cushing acted swiftly and decisively, bringing seven new faces to the club in what was a significant summer shake-up.
The first game of the season saw City win a historic women’s Manchester derby in front a record Women’s Super League crowd of 31,213, with our second-half display overwhelming our cross-town rivals.
And ahead of Thursday’s game against Lugano in the last-32 of the Champions League, Cushing has heaped praise on his players’ appetite and desire, describing them as the best group he's worked with.
“We’re a better team than last season," he said.
"We have an exceptional work ethic. This is the hungriest team we’ve had in terms of training hard and wanting to beat every team.
"All we as staff have to do is work through the schedule because they want to be the best.”
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City’s Champions League campaign was a disappointing footnote to an otherwise fine 2018-19 campaign that saw us win both domestic trophies and finish as runners-up in the WSL.
After consecutive semi-final appearances, our last-32 exit to Atletico Madrid, which saw us go ahead in the tie with an away goal in the first leg, was a blow.
But with the new campaign set to get under way, there's renewed hope in the City squad, and Cushing says last season's European disappointment makes him more determined this time around.
"It’s definitely an additional incentive," he said. "We have won everything else but we are in the sixth season of being a team. We have come so far but it’s so difficult [in the Champions League].
"The first objective is to get to quarter-finals and semis and to get into the last bit it becomes a reality - but it's so difficult against the Lyons, Wolfsburg, Barcelona,
"I don't feel pressure but I'm highly motivated."