Women's Team

Walsh: I’ve fallen in love with football again

WONDERWALSH: Keira Walsh says manager Nick Cushing has helped her to rediscover her love of the beautiful game.
Keira Walsh says manager Nick Cushing has helped her to rediscover her love of the beautiful game.

Following last summer’s World Cup in France, the midfielder revealed she had considered a change of career, due to the criticism she received on social media – negative comments which had not previously been prevalent in the women’s game.

READ: Cushing nominated for FA WSL Manager of the Month

WATCH: FA WSL Flashback | City 1-0 United

TICKETS: City v Arsenal Women | Sun 2 Feb

The 22-year-old admits she had lost her passion for football for a while but explained Cushing – who has often spoken highly of her ability and importance to the team – had proven a positive influence to rekindle the fire.

“I’ve had many conversations with Nick and he’s definitely helped me to fall back in love with football,” she declared.

“He takes the seriousness away and that was something important for me – I just needed to get back to loving it and having fun.

“He makes sure all the girls do that and ultimately, I’m still here, playing for my childhood club and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m enjoying my football and hopefully, everyone can see that in my performances and the way the team has been playing as well.”

One of the first names on Cushing’s teamsheet, Walsh is set to start in Saturday’s FA Women’s Cup clash against Manchester United.

The lifelong City fan is naturally relishing the encounter; more so, after October’s defeat, which saw the midfielder sent off for a rash challenge in the second half.

Walsh admits the emotions of the day played a part in her actions but insists she has learned from the experience to improve her overall game.

“I think I let my emotions get the better of me a little bit,” she conceded.

“That’s something I’ll focus on this time – I just need to relax a bit more and not think about the occasion. It’s more about control and how we’re going to play as a team.

“I think there’s a point to prove as a team. I don’t think we played anywhere near what we’re capable of (in the Continental Cup game in October) – we were terrible on the day!

“100%, we want to make Manchester Blue again.”

The Derby marks the first of Cushing’s final three games in charge, before the manager embarks on a new adventure as Assistant Manager of New York City FC.

WATCH: FA WSL Flashback: City 1-0 United

With must-win match-ups against United and Arsenal (first in the Conti Cup semi-finals on Wednesday; then in a potential title decider on Sunday), the 35-year-old perhaps could not have imagined a tougher week to end on.

However, Walsh insists that – if given the opportunity – the ambitious Cushing would have chosen the fixtures himself, and hopes her side can give him the send-off he deserves.

“If you know him, he wouldn’t want it any other way!” she joked.

“He’d want to play the tough teams, and having a Manchester Derby, cup semi-final and possible title decider in his last week as manager isn’t bad!

“It’s something we’re all looking forward to as a team and we’re all looking to win these games quite comfortably for him.

“That’s what he deserves in his final week: to win the games we need to win.

“It’s nothing more than what he deserves for everything he’s done for us.

“We want to play well for him and send him off with a positive message.”

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