WSL: Carla Ward wants to end Aston Villa tenure ‘on a high’ against Man City

Manager Carla Ward of Aston Villa shouts from the sideline.
Manager Carla Ward of Aston Villa reacts during the FAWSL match against Reading at Bank's Stadium on 26 March 2022. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Carla Ward’s last dance as Aston Villa manager will see her side face title contenders Manchester City at Villa Park.

Aston Villa currently sit seventh in the Barclays Women’s Super League table, as the side embarks on their continued mission to earn a spot in the top half of the table. Villa will look to add three last points to their campaign as Man City visit their Midlands home.

Ward shared her thoughts on the pride she feels towards the club and how it has developed over the course of her managerial presence, now that the end of an era has arrived.

“I want to go out on a high”

Ward admitted that earning three points this afternoon would be the perfect send-off for her time at the club. The head coach was clear on the fact that heading into Saturday’s WSL finale, Villa are eager to end their campaign, as well as Ward’s term as manager, with a win.

The boss affirmed: “I want to go out on a high. I want to attack the game, and that’s what we’ll do.”

The Sky Blues will need to secure a win by at least four goals if they are to stand a chance at snatching the title from Emma Hayes’s Chelsea. Regarding the title race going down to the final day and how speculation has implied it might impact Villa’s approach to Saturday’s fixture, Ward explained the mindset of her and her squad as they look to compete with one of the best.

Eager to quash claims that Villa could be preoccupied by thoughts on whether City or Chelsea win the league, Ward emphasised: “We’re not there to try and help one or the other, we’re there to try and get three points.”

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“May the best team win”

As Chelsea and Manchester City both battle to lift the trophy on Saturday, Ward expressed praise for both Taylor and Hayes’ sides.

“May the best team win,” she said. “They’ve both had exceptional seasons.”

Ward spoke particularly highly of Taylor’s Manchester outfit, as Aston Villa gear up to face the title challengers who are without their top goalscorer, Bunny Shaw. The head coach shared that her team were ready to wrestle for success on Saturday afternoon, emphatically saying: “Have we ever, since I’ve been here, been walloped by City? No.”

“I’ll forever love the club”

Ward emphatically highlighted her passion for her role as manager, and for Aston Villa as a club, declaring: “I’ll forever love the club, and who knows what the future will hold.”

The 2023/24 season in particular has seen Ward take a strong stance on some of the most important issues in women’s football. Alongside some comical moments throughout a somewhat turbulent season, she has also advocated for player welfare, becoming one of the leading voices in conversations surrounding the importance of both physical and psychological support for female athletes.

Ward spoke candidly about the importance of female coaching staff having a voice, and showing the character and the confidence to stand up for what they believe in.

“There aren’t enough that are willing to speak up, there aren’t enough that are willing to be honest and say what they really should say, because they are worried about what a reaction will be in social media. People need to step up and maybe take the lead and speak and share exactly what they feel- not enough do.”

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Aston Villa team news

Lucy Staniforth and Daphne van Domselaar will remain absent from Saturday’s proceedings, but the squad remains otherwise unchanged. Recent times have seen a move for van Domselaar to Arsenal rumoured, but Ward declined to offer comment on the possibility.

Saturday’s highly-anticipated farewell fixture will kick off at 15:00 BST. It will be available to watch live on BBC Two, as Carla Ward’s Aston Villa say their goodbyes, while hoping to take points from one of the league’s frontrunners.

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