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Marc Skinner ready to attack WSL season after putting his own stamp on Man Utd squad

Manchester United manager Marc Skinner was delighted by what he saw from a less than full strength side in the Women’s French Cup against Paris Saint-Germain.

United have got used to playing the top WSL sides – Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City – since promotion in 2019. But facing PSG represented a different kind of test as it was the first time the club has faced an elite international club.

It is the kind of opponent that United are determined to be facing on a regular basis in the Champions League, having narrowly missed out on qualification again last season, but a 1-0 win over the French giants was an impressive statement of intent from Skinner’s team.

Neither side had a full complement so soon after Euro 2022 and United were without Ella Toone, Alessia Russo, Mary Earps, Nikita Parris, Aissatou Tounkara, all only just back in training after the summer tournament. Millie Turner is also still working on her fitness after a long injury absence.

But United secured a momentous 1-0 win thanks to a single goal from captain Katie Zelem laid on by new signing Lucia Garcia, who made her unofficial debut off the bench in the second half.

“When we started the tournament, nobody would give us a chance of beating PSG,” Skinner told MUTV. “It’s pre-season, so you balance things. But the performance was more important. We’ve had two pre-season friendlies and we’ve jumped straight to PSG away from home.

“I can only congratulate the players on what they’ve given. It shows how hungry this group are for success for our team. I said last year, the fire had been lit and I absolutely believe that. We have to stay hungry in every moment and not waste a second this season.”

With Champions League football the longstanding ambition and no history against top European sides, Skinner was really keen to test his team at the highest level this summer in order to get the kind of big game experience it isn’t possible to otherwise replicate.

What’s more, after a busy summer of recruitment and finally putting his own stamp on the squad after working with a largely inherited squad last season, the United boss has reason to be optimistic about the upcoming campaign given that depth and options will only grow.

“We’re still nowhere near getting the whole squad together. I think there were seven or eight out of the team that will come in and really make it competitive. But look what the other players have done,” he explained.

Creating that depth and competition was “…the whole reason we went into the transfer market this summer,” Skinner added. “I didn’t have chance last year to affect the team the way I wanted it.

“When we identified, we went with seven [new signings] because the core is still there and they’ve added so much quality to what we’re doing. You wait until all those players are chomping at the bit to play. People will talk about the manager having a headache and so I should do.

“If you want to play, stay on the edge, because Manchester has to be on the edge of performance, not wavering. We want to win games like this.”

United will continue their pre-season preparations on Friday when they face Bayern Munich in the Women’s French Cup final. The 2022/23 campaign will begin for real on 10 September when the squad travels to London to face Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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