Nick Cushing hailed the ‘professionalism’ of his players, following Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Everton.

Pauline Bremer continued her excellent goalscoring form, bagging a brace to move City level on points at the top of the FA Women’s Super League table, with Gemma Bonner also on the scoresheet.

The triumph marked a positive end to an emotional week, which brought the news of manager Cushing’s upcoming departure for a new challenge with New York City FC.

READ: Houghton pays tribute to departing Cushing

WATCH: Defining Moments | Jill Scott MBE

TICKETS: City v Arsenal Women | Sun 2 Feb

Although he admitted the past few days had been emotional on a personal and collective level, the 35-year-old spoke of his pride for the way the team regrouped to produce a dominant display, clinching a vital triumph to move level on points with league leaders Arsenal.

“Thursday (the day the players were informed of the news) was a difficult day,” he conceded. “It probably came as a bit of a shock to the team.

“We went out and trained on Thursday and Friday so professionally. We got the intensity up and the players listened to how we planned to beat Everton.

“Maybe people thought there would be a little hangover or a bit of emotion but the group showed how professional they are, going out and winning the game.

“It has been emotional on both sides. It’s a great opportunity for me but I don’t think the time would ever have been right for me to leave. I’m so close to the team – it’s a huge part of my life.

“It was the right time for some reasons – not perfect timing but we’ve discussed it. I trust the people at the Club – Gavin Makel, Brian Marwood, Omar Berrada – and we sat down. We want to be world-leading at developing players, teams and coaches.


                        Emotional Cushing proud of professionalism

“It’s a good opportunity. I don’t define this team. The players we’ve had over the years and the staff who have worked incredibly hard are the reason we’ve successful. I’m just a part of that.

“It’s hard because I don’t see myself walking away from this job. It’s a good opportunity and it’s good for everybody – to continue to push the women’s team on and push me as a coach as I’m staying within the City Football Group.

“I’m proud of a lot of things we’ve done here. I always felt like – whether it was my decision or the Club’s – that I would be potentially heartbroken. If you sit and go through all the things – even trophies aside – it’s far more than just coaching a football team.

“We’ve done a lot of good things. I’ve met a lot of great people and improved and developed a lot of young, English talent. I’m proud of that and the games we’ve won; the trophies and the people I’ve met.

“(My biggest achievement) has been earning the respect of the players. People like Jill Scott and Steph Houghton… I call them friends now. Okay, I’ve pushed them hard and they’ve pushed me hard; we’ve fallen out and argued but my proudest moment is having their respect and hearing them say nice things about me – that’s testament to the hard work we’ve all put in together.

“We’ve won trophies… I’ve watched my son walk out with Steph Houghton at Wembley in 2017; lifted the FA Cup… There have been a million things I’ve loved.

“I have a great relationship with the fans – they’re great people and they’ve followed us all over, pushing us hard in all of our games.

WATCH: Defining moments: Jill Scott MBE

“The team is my life – the Club is my life. That’s why I always wanted to remain within the group if it was an option. They’ve been so good at developing and challenging me and my next challenge is New York.

“This is the next step on my journey: New York as an assistant coach. I can learn from Ronny Deila and New York and the MLS. Then I could come back as a Head Coach – a better coach – whether that’s for the men’s or women’s team in the group.

“It’s going to be tough over the next four weeks but they’ve show how professional they are. We planned a tough game against Everton and gone on to win and now it’s onto Sheffield United because we want to get into the semi-finals of the Continental Cup.

“Of course, it’s emotional. When we won the Conti Cup in 2016, it was the day my daughter was born. I didn’t go to the birth because the team means so much to me and my family. My son was born in the car in 2014 – two days before we started pre-season and my wife went off with the baby and I didn’t do any paternity leave because I went off to pre-season in La Manga.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have a supportive wife. We told the kids we are going to New York and they are excited. It’s another part of our journey and I’m proud to have earned the opportunity to go to an incredible football club with great people.

“There are a million things that have affected my life and my wife has been such a part of it and will continue to be so.

“The Arsenal game will be hard but I’m determined to make sure the team is in the right place to go on and be successful.”

Following Cushing’s departure, current assistant manager Alan Mahon will take charge of first team matters in the interim period, with former England men's Under-21s coach Brian Eastick providing a supporting role, bringing with him over 30 years of experience both on and off the pitch.


                        Emotional Cushing proud of professionalism

Cushing believes his assistant possesses the knowledge and leadership to accept the role on a permanent basis if desired and is looking forward to seeing close friend Mahon make the step up.

“He has the ability to take it – it’s whether he sees being a Head Coach as his future and if he feels he’s ready,” he explained.

“Ultimately, I wasn’t ready in 2014 – nowhere near – but the team was in a different place then.

“This football club will look for the right person but Alan will be involved for the future whether he’s the assistant coach or the Head Coach because he’s an asset to the team.

“I trust the Club fully. My journey is going to New York. Whoever it is will get the opportunity to take this fantastic team and fantastic players and continue to be successful.”

Reflecting on the triumph over Everton, which kept the pressure on reigning Champions Arsenal, Cushing said: “I think we should have been more than 1-0 up at half-time.

“We were creating a lot of chances but probably not testing the goalkeeper enough, so we pushed them hard at half-time to turn chances into goals.

WATCH: Match highlights: Spurs Women 1-4 City

“To get to 3-0 took control of the game. We were disappointed with the goal we conceded but we’re pleased with the win because Everton are a good team.”

The in-form Bremer netted another brace – her 14th and 15th goals of the season – to continue her purple patch.

Cushing feels there is yet more to come from the German international but has been impressed with her contribution.

“We’re pushing Pauline hard,” he stated. “We know she can improve – that there are areas of her game that can be better.

“One area we can’t complain about is in the box. She’s so clinical with chances, although she probably could have scored more and she’s probably disappointed not to have had a hat-trick. For her to have scored two goals in consecutive games is brilliant for us.

“We’ve not had a dominant striker over the six seasons that has pushed us hard and now we have two. We’re in a good place.”

Cushing also provided an update on Karen Bardsley’s progress, as the goalkeeper continues her recovery from a lengthy injury lay-off.

“She’s not in full training but she’s training on grass with her boots on, practising handling and physical work,” he shared.

“She won’t be long – it won’t be next week but we envisage her playing in March. If we can push that to February, that would be brilliant.

“It’s a big injury for her and it took a lot of rehab but one thing I will say is that she’s desperate to play in the Olympics so she’ll make sure she gets on the pitch and shows how good a goalkeeper she is. Then, it’s up to Phil to pick his two goalkeepers.

“She’s closer than she’s been all year. Now we have to leave it to the medical department and let them do their thing and she’ll be back.”