In just two short years Manchester United Women went from Championship winners to arguably the WSL’s most exciting team.
They were only reformed in 2018 and yet they managed to finish fourth in their return to the top flight after 13 years.
Not quite the fairy-tale ending fans hoped for. But combine that with a promising young manager and star-studded roster and the sky’s the limit for United.
Could they be a serious title contender next season?
Why Stoney is the Woman to Lead United
Casey Stoney was appointed head coach of Manchester United Women just 10 days after they were officially reestablished.
She was faced with three huge tasks.
The former England international had to build a team from scratch, promote them in their first season and lay the foundation for future success.
She did just that.
No one could have predicted just how successful they would become so quickly.
Stoney’s Red Devils won the 2018/19 FA Women’s Championship a full nine points ahead of Tottenham.Embed from Getty Images
They secured the title with two games to spare after a 7-0 mauling of Crystal Palace.
This past season in the WSL saw United go up against well-established powerhouses in Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
A fourth-placed finish was a more than respectable effort.
Stoney had a successful 20-year career as a professional footballer before becoming a manager.
She has more than 100 caps for the Lionesses and multiple trophies at club level to go alongside it.
Stoney signed a contract extension last November. She said the season ending early was disappointing but she was already preparing for the next campaign.
“I think to finish fourth is positive, but, for this club, we’re always trying to strive for more and be more successful,” she told MUFC.
“We had a few little bumps this season where we weren’t maybe as consistent as we needed to be. We’re not far off the top three, we know that based on the margins of the scores, but we need to turn results around and start winning them.”
Are United on the Hunt for More Big Names?
Manchester United Women already have a strong squad even though they’re a new team. But they will need to invest in more big name signings to compete with the “Big Three.”
With the likes of Kirsty Hanson, Leah Galton and Lauren James they pose a huge threat going forward. When you add captain Katie Zelem and Netherlands international Jackie Groenen into the midfield, it’s no wonder they’ve achieved so much success so quickly.
It’s not just the names on the team sheet either. It’s the fact a number of them are under the age of 26.
If they can hold onto the core group, then they’ll be set up for many years to come.
United have seen a few players leave the club with contracts expiring. England U21 international Aimee Palmer is set to leave at the end of June. Lizzie Arnot will also leave at the end of the month upon expiry of her contract. Norwegian international Aurora Mikalsen could also be on her way out soon.
As the FA work with clubs and stakeholders to plan for next season, the transfer window Stoney is likely to use the transfer window as an opportunity to perfect her squad.
“We want to make sure we have the right characters on this journey with us. It’s ongoing,” Stoney said.
“At the moment things are slightly on hold due to the situation, which is difficult. Ideally we would have it all done by now and I could sleep at night knowing we have the players we want.”Stoney and Manchester United Women will have their chance to prove to the world they are here to stay when the new season begins.
The 2020/21 WSL and Championship seasons are scheduled to kickoff in early September.