Women's Team

Taylor: City ahead of schedule

Gareth Taylor says he is delighted with City’s pre-season progress, ahead of the new 2021/21 campaign.

City rounded off a positive schedule of friendly games with a fine 4-1 win over Everton at the City Football Academy, thanks to goals from Gemma Bonner, Steph Houghton, Lauren Hemp and new recruit Sam Mewis.

Taylor, who took the helm at the end of May following Nick Cushing’s departure, negotiated an unusual start to life as Head Coach in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Now almost three months into the job and with the squad readying themselves for the long-awaited new season, he says he has been impressed with his side’s conduct, willingness to learn and swift shift to a new coaching style.

“I can already see the style coming through,” he reflected, after the triumph over Everton. “I didn’t think I would at this point.


“I thought there was some really good play and good progressive football through the thirds. I felt we were probably not clinical as we could have been in the final third but I’d said that in last game.

“I’m always looking to improve and push the girls. They’ve been amazing to work with – in the six weeks back to training and previously, in lockdown with the conversations and analysis work.

“It’s been really good and no nonsense from the girls. Some players have had to play out of position but the way they’ve adapted and taken it on has been great.

“They’re so resilient. Everything put in front of them, they take on as a challenge. If we are what we are, that’s what we’re going to be.

“We’ve been blessed with the weather in recent weeks, although the last few days have been a complete contrast!

“I’m made up with the way the players are taking on new ideas. I still think there’s a long way to go and many things to improve on.

“When you can feel the work you’re putting in on the training ground day by day coming out in games, it’s really nice for me and for the staff.

“The transition has been fairly seamless. I’ve coached in the same manner and brought in slightly new ideas to the girls.

“I’m very fortunate, being here at this Club with the interaction I’ve had previously. I’ve known Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley for a long time, as well as Alan Mahon and Chris Williams.

“It’s been great for me. It’s allowed me to hit the ground running and get into the real detail rather than having to worry about relationships. I’m a big one on that.


“It was a difficult transition in terms of taking the job on in lockdown but since then, it’s been great and we’ve been really looked after by everyone here at the City Football Academy.”

The triumph over the Toffees marked a debut for United States star and World Cup winner Sam Mewis, who starred with a superb second half display, bagging a goal and two assists!

The cameo provided an encouraging insight in what is hopefully to come in sky blue for the midfielder, while others have also impressed with solid pre-season performances, including fellow new recruit Chloe Kelly.

“Chloe’s done great,” Taylor hailed. “She’s so coachable. She’s a great girl to work with and she wants to do well.

“She’s come in seamlessly. That’s a big testament to the girls and the environment created for new signings.

“It’s the same with Sam. She’s had a difficult period stuck in quarantine but fair play to her for coming out and putting a shift in after one training session with the group! That’s amazing but I expected that from her.

“You can see she’s a real team player. She played huge part in the American success in the World Cup.”

Taylor faces a baptism of fire for his first competitive game as Head Coach, as City lock horns with Chelsea next weekend in the FA Women’s Community Shield – the first since 2008.

As last season’s top two clash at Wembley Stadium, Taylor’s first test could not be much more difficult – but he says he cannot wait.

It’s going to be a great game,” he previewed. “We’re really confident – we’re going there to really put on good performance and hopefully, come back with an early trophy in the season.


“We’re looking for that first piece of silverware. I understand completely the expectations. The girls are winners. I sensed the hunger from the moment I arrived.

“We want to build on the success we’ve already had. We understand that to do that, there has to be slight changes – not massive ones. Belief is a big one of those.

“I’m pushing the girls a lot, pushing the staff a lot… Belief is a big thing to being successful.

“This week, it’s more work, back out onto the training pitches. We’re looking forward to it.”