Women's Team

Taylor: It’s been a squad effort this season

Gareth Taylor praised the collective effort of his squad in the aftermath of the Women’s FA Cup Final.

City completed the 2021/22 campaign with a narrow 3-2 extra-time loss to Chelsea, having twice fought back in normal time in a thrilling contest in front of a record Wembley crowd.

The defeat brought to an end an exceptional run of form, which had seen the team claim 13 successive triumphs and 21 wins in our previous 23 games, securing the Continental Cup and Champions League football.

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Though the game marked a disappointing end to the campaign, Taylor was full of praise for his players’ togetherness and commitment in what proved to be a season of two halves.

“Everyone’s done amazingly - whether they’ve played two minutes or every game like Alex [Greenwood],” he declared. “Chloe [Kelly] being back is great.

“It's a team game and I’m proud of the team. It’s disappointing we’ve finished the final game with this feeling but we need to take a step back and look at what we’ve achieved.

“The way we conducted ourselves has been spot on. I said to the players: ‘Yes, be disappointed but also be really proud.’

“It’d be magic if you could place the second half where the first was this season.

“Working with the same people for a number of years allows you to do good things. There’s no secret if you have a good plan, people need time to implement it.

“A year, two years sometimes isn’t enough... it’s about working with the same players, experiencing the good and the bad, but in the last few years we’ve equalled that record of 13 wins. We broke it last season.

“It shows we’re strong and I felt even in this game we were strong in extra-time. My feeling at the moment isn’t really disappointment. We wanted to lift the trophy but at the moment, it’s pride of the way the team played.

“There were areas we can improve for sure and I’d probably say the only disappointment is we gave Chelsea three goals. But outside of that, I felt they didn’t have many opportunities. We nullified the threat and create chances for ourselves.

“This is football, it can happen… you can dominate large periods and have nothing to show.”

In further reflection of the game itself, in which City battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to force the game into extra-time, Taylor believes his side shaded the contest but credited Chelsea for taking their chances.

“Of course, I’ll be biased, but I felt [we were the better team],” he added. “We were the dominant team for large periods, we started well, had good chances and showed good character to bounce back.

“In the second half, we controlled large parts and in the last 20, we were excellent before Hayley scores. I felt we were the only team in extra-time who would go on and do it but we made a slight error on the halfway line which cost us.

“It’s difficult then because Chelsea can see the game out. You have to take your hat off to them – what they do, they do well.

“We’ve found it difficult to play that. They’ve won trophies and been to Finals in the last few years… it shows that outside of us, no other team has taken a trophy.

“It was difficult to come back but I’m supremely proud of the team – we were excellent and showed great character.

“It’s just a shame we couldn't get our noses in front.”

Looking ahead to next season, Taylor says City can take plenty of encouragement from our second half showing.

“We’re proud to be here and disappointed, but we know we can do it,” he continued. “We know we’re there and will improve a lot. We’ve got young talent coming through so the future’s bright.

“We’re proud of the way we play. If you ask the players they enjoy the system, it’s trying to arrive in the final third as a team. It’s not the only way to play – other teams try different formulas and it works for them and we respect that.

“But for us, it’s exciting for players. They look at it and think: ‘I want a piece of that’. We’re exciting – two wingers, create crosses... it’s the way I love and the way I know.

“It’s strength in adversity in whatever you do in life. Everyone suffers and you find out who's with you and not, and a lot about yourself too. It's not new to me… I had a 20+ year playing career with a lot of downs but that's how you deal with it: affect what you can affect.

“But looking back on that, the players and staff were amazing and professional throughout. We were rewarded with the things we did in the second half of the season.”

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