Home Soccer Women´s Football United have shown they have the ‘tools to unlock any situation’ – but can they do it in Paris?

United have shown they have the ‘tools to unlock any situation’ – but can they do it in Paris?

United have shown they have the ‘tools to unlock any situation’ – but can they do it in Paris?

An improved Manchester United Women’s side in 2018 has long been a target but Mark Skinner’s side looked unfazed in the opening 45 minutes at Paris Saint-Germain.

United’s decision to play a 4-5-1, with Leigh Galton in front of Lucia Garcia and defender Jayde Riviere sidelined, still seems to complicate things for a team that is regrouping after 10 new signings in the summer.

United failed to win Tuesday night’s second leg of the group stage, but this first leg almost got away from them. Millie Turner put on a goal-line clinic in the first 90 seconds to save the early lead and any attempts by Skinner to press down the middle in the middle of the 5th were thwarted by a strong forward press from the French side.

It took an injury to PSG’s Orian Jean-Francis in the 17th minute for the home side to begin to settle the tempo of the game – and another seven minutes for Garcia to slot in from behind for United’s first try.

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Skinner himself spent most of the first half consulting screens in the dugout either to get a tactical view of the field or to relay messages between himself, his coaching staff and the offside Rivier when there was a problem with a Malawian player. Future Tabitha Chawinga.

The score may have read 0-0 at half-time, but United’s hopes of a Champions League qualification owed little to Chawinga and Sandy’s dominant finish at Baltimore. Playing in front of a home crowd of 4,827 at Leigh Sports Village, United looked to be up against experienced opposition at first.

Fortunately, a halftime change allowed Skinner to turn the tide. In the match, Brazilian forward Guise Le Riviere and United reverted to their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. A tactical plan focused on destroying their opposition came into being and a burst of creativity took United to greater heights.

Guise’s strength and physical intelligence make her an exciting new attacking position for United this season. In the first half, United struggled to press and get into the PSG goal. In the second game, Guise’s possession gave them a valuable reference point.

A goal for PSG – scored by Chawinga in the 53rd minute – threatened to take the wind out of United’s sails, but two more Skinner changes put the Champions League debutants back on track. World Cup Golden Boot winner Hinata Miyazawa brought composure and control to United’s possession game, with Melvin Mallard scoring in front of her.

Mallard’s goal in the 70th minute – he headed in a cross from Turner to complete an entertaining counter-attack. It was Mallard’s second goal in as many games against Arsenal last Friday and the on-loan striker is looking to become a fan favourite.

With a 1-1 draw from the first leg, United are in good shape for the Champions League group stage and have a deep squad capable of playing more than ever.

“I felt a little nervous in the first half, but in the second half we felt confident,” Skinner said.

“We were practicing and growing to defend a new system. We had to give them respect. In the second half, when we learned how to play, we challenged the players to do what they did. That’s the fastest (team) we’ve played. In the second half, we had them on the ropes and I felt like we could take the game.”

United will be asking a lot from former Champions League winners Geisse and Mallard to come off the bench to salvage a difficult situation in their Champions League debut. With so much at stake in the team’s successful run to the relegation (Mary Earps’ possible future at the club, for example), Athletic were keen to see if Skinner’s first-half tactics were intended to be rope-adopt tactics against their opponents. , trying to feel things out before looking to counterattack once you’re tired.

The United manager explains that the substitutions are not a cunning plan but a physical adjustment. Guise has been dead-footed since his break with Arsenal and Mallard is understood to be dealing with a slight complaint since arriving in England.

“We know we have great offensive players, but so do they,” Skinner replied.

“If you leave yourself open, the game — and the tie — can be lost. The second leg, maybe[we’ll attack more]because it’s a winner-takes-all. So we left him in a difficult position for them and for us, but what I think we’re going to do tonight is learn from the second half as well as the first half.”

It was a draw powered by the versatility of a rejuvenated United squad. Skinner is blessed with “aces in places” – special abilities in key positions – all of which can define matches on their own.

“What I liked was Geise’s graceful agility and dexterity, Mal[Mallard’s]understanding of when to step in, Hini’s (Miyazawa) composure,” Skinner said.

“Tony’s (Ella Tone) energy and Katie’s calm composure – that add to these character moments. That’s what I’m trying to build. I’m trying to build a set of players that have the tools to unlock any scenario.

The second leg in Paris on October 18 will be a tough one, but whether by chance or design, Skinner’s tactics have given United a strong chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

(Top photo: Charlotte Tattersall – MUFC/Manchester United via Getty Images)