Tag Archives: Women’s Super League

Man City Women snap up Chloe Kelly on Free Transfer from Everton

Man City Women have bolstered their ranks ahead of the upcoming WSL season with the signing of talented striker Chloe Kelly from Everton.

The England international, rejected a new contract with the Toffees to sign for the Citizens on a three year deal. She will wear the number nine shirt at City, and is new manager Gareth Taylor’s  first signing since taking charge.

The 22 year old started her career at Arsenal, scoring just 22 minutes into her debut against Watford in the Continental Cup in July 2015. She made a further 12 appearances for the Gunners, scoring two more goals, before heading to Everton on loan.

The club were in the WSL 2 at the time and Kelly made nine starts, netting twice, as Everton finished top of the table in the Spring Series. She then returned to Merseyside for a second spell when Everton were promoted to the WSL 1 in 2017.

She made the move permanent in January 2018 and hasn’t looked back since, playing 32 games and scoring 11 goals, earning plaudits for her terrific performances up front.

The majority of those strikes came in 2019-20 as Kelly enjoyed a stellar season. She bagged nine goals in just twelve games in the WSL before the campaign was abruptly ended due to the coronavirus pandemic as Everton finished sixth.

She declined to extend her stay on Merseyside, citing her need to challenge for trophies and to play in Europe as a determining factor in her switch to City.

Kelly is also experienced on the international scene having featured for the Three Lions from U15 level right through to senior level, making her debut for the Lionesses as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Austria in November 2018.

She was also part of the England U20 side who won bronze at the 2018 FIFA U20 World Women’s Cup and has since won three more caps for England.

Upon putting pen to paper, Kelly told City’s official website of her delight at joining the club:

“I’m unbelievably excited. I’m just so happy to have the deal sorted and I can’t wait to get going – I’m honoured to be a City player.

“Manchester City are a hugely ambitious club whose aspirations match my own and as soon as I had my initial discussions with the staff, I knew there and then that it was the place I wanted to be.”

She credits new manager Gareth Taylor, who has taken the reigns after Nick Cushing’s departure, for persuading her to choose Manchester as her new home, stating:

“Having spoken to Gareth too after he joined the team, I could sense immediately what a great manager he is and I was excited by the idea of working with him.”

The signing represents a huge coup for Man City, who were cruelly pipped to the title this season on points per game by Chelsea, who had a game in hand before the curtailment of the WSL.

Taylor expressed his delight at the signing to City’s official website:

“We’re thrilled that Chloe has put pen to paper to join us here at Manchester City.

“She is an incredibly exciting young talent who has broken onto the scene in the Women’s Super League and the England set-up in recent years, but there’s still so much more to come from her.”

City also announced that defender Gemma Bonner has penned a two year contract extension, with the 28 year old telling City’s site:

“I’ve had a really good two years, especially last season. I played some of my best football with some incredible players around me, so I can’t wait to continue that journey.”

The Telegraph has reported that City are close to further strengthening their squad, having agreed deals for Lyon duo Lucy Bronze, who left City for France in 2017 and Alex Greenwood who previously featured for rivals Man United.

They signed short term contracts to allow them to play in the Champions League with the French champions but they are set to leave once the tournament is concluded in August.

What challenges lie ahead for Women’s Sports in the UK?

As the world of sport gradually starts getting back to us seeing action on the pitch, as opposed to action off it, spare a thought for the vast majority of women’s sports that are still not taking place at this present moment in time.

The Government and major governing bodies have been warned that a decade of progress in women’s sports are at risk if they do not urgently address a potential summer of no competitions.

While Premier League football will return in the middle of next month and men’s rugby and cricket currently finalising plans to return, women’s football, rugby and netball seasons have all been cancelled.

Women’s cricketers and hockey players are still in limbo, waiting to see what is left of international schedules, while there has been no women’s team sport since March 14th with no immediate prospect of a return.

By contrast, in Germany the Women’s Bundesliga resumed on Friday and there are plans in place in the USA for women’s football to restart in June.

There has been no elite women’s football in England for more than 90 days. This could extend to as much as six months pending a decision on whether this seasons Women’s Champions League and FA Cup can be concluded.

With record domestic crowds in the past few seasons and a major sponsorship deal with Barclays, is now unfortunately threatening to end with a whimper.

The new WSL season is provisionally set to begin in September, but this could well not happen due to the present pandemic.

Although the majority of WSL clubs have endorsed the decision by the FA to cancel the league, the general feeling remains that the governing body and the Premier League could have done more to ensure the return of women’s football. It certainly seems that the men’s version of the game is clearly taken priority at the moment. Which is a pity as the momentum in women’s sport overall has been on an all-time high.

It has been a dismal year for women’s rugby. The Premier 15’s had to be paused in January for the Six Nations, with the game struggling before the pandemic hit. When the coronavirus really hit the country, all Premier 15’s activity was suspended.

In cricket it has been a case of the England Men’s International game taking priority over the ladies, with £280 million on the line this is fully understandable. This in mind, couldn’t the ECB set aside something for the women’s game to continue?

Netball is certainly the sport set to lose the most momentum by virtually having its whole season cancelled.

This time last year, the country was preparing to host the World Cup in Liverpool, on the back of the success of the England netball team in the 2018 Commonwealth title in Australia, which sent participation levels in grass roots of the sport to record highs.

In Hockey. GB’s long-time partner International Bank Investic declined to renew its deal, which means that after August the national teams and the domestic league will have no sponsor.

Summing up, as men’s sport clamours to restart, it seems that the women’s teams are being abandoned, which isn’t good for the sport with little finances coming into the various sports.  Subsequently, it could mean that some sports may have to go back to their amateur roots once again.

Article written by Peter Moore

How does the FA plan to complete the Women Super League season?

These are certainly challenging times for the sporting calendar across the board.

Particularly it seems for women’s football, this appears somewhat remarkable given its raised profile in this country over the last few years and when the FA announced the Women Super League as the first fully professional division in Europe back in 2017.

It looked as though the only way was up with the prospects of improved publicity and clearer career paths for young talent emerging through the ranks.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown attendance records for women’s matches were rising significantly as 38,000 fans turned out at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to see Arsenal’s 2-0 win over their North London rivals back in November of last year.

This in mind, 24/7 football decided to examine what the Football Association’s current plan is for completing the WSL season.

How many games are left?

There are 45 games of the current season still to be played and no WSL fixture has taken place since the 23 February, following an international break for the SheBelieves Cup involving England, Spain, Japan and the USA.

Current situation?

Already the tiers three to seven of the women’s football leagues in England have been declared null and void and subsequently the decision was confirmed on 9 April.  There is the prospect of the top two leagues in the Women’s game following this same line depending upon health advice given by the Government over the coming weeks.

What is the FA’s current plan?

The current plan that the Football Association is looking into is playing out the remaining fixtures all at one central venue behind closed doors with St.George’s Park, the FA’s English National football centre, currently being talked about as a possible location.

The earliest the campaign could begin however would be the weekend of the 6-7 June depending on the government’s advice and would rely on the players being able to begin training in the final week of May.

The completion date being targeted would therefore be the weekend of 18-19 July and would require each of the 12 WSL teams to play two matches per week.

It is understood that the FA would want any decisions made on the top women’s division to follow along with any similar choices made by the Premier League and the European Football governing body, UEFA.

How do the managers and players feel about this?

Manchester City and England striker Ellen White is hoping that the ‘crazy’ Super League season will be completed when the coronavirus is lifted.  White said:

“First and foremost I just want everyone to be healthy. I think everyone would love to finish the season but everyone’s health is the top priority.

“It’s been a pretty crazy season already and it’s a massive fight for who is going to win the league.”

Despite losing their manager Nick Cushing to New York City FC Manchester City found themselves a point clear ahead of their nearest rivals Chelsea. However their title rivals have a game in hand, which had set up an exciting finish until COVID-19 stopped all sport.

The Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes meanwhile has said:

“When the men’s professional game resumes the WSL should consider doing that but I understand if the season does not resume and life is ultimately more important. Hopefully when the times come to lift the restrictions we can all do it in the same way.”

While the Bristol City Women’s manager Tanya Oxtoby has recently expressed concerns that some players may in fact be struggling with anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 lockdown.  Oxtoby said

“Athletes like structure, routine and to be around each other.  So I think from a mental health point of view that’s probably very difficult.

“There’s also been the added stress in terms of finances and families, those are all factors that will affect individual players a little bit differently.”

This observation can certainly be applied to all sports personnel during this time. FIFA Pro recently carried out a survey alongside Amsterdam University on both male and female footballers which showed 22% of female players and 13% of male players have reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression.

What next?

The Football Association is determined to complete the current season but wants it finished by no later than early August.

The FA Women’s Director Kelly Simmons, supports this by saying:

“We are determined to finish the FA WSL, Women’s Championship and the FA Cup in the most appropriate way while it is also the intention of UEFA to complete the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

“We are doing everything we can to plan for the return of football but for now safety and welfare remains are primary concern.”

One thing is however clearly apparent; this is certainly an unprecedented time for all those involved and ultimately tough decisions will need to be made about the future and growth of the women’s game in the days ahead.

WSL Update: Vivianne Miedema keeps Arsenal in the title race

Defending champions Arsenal secured a vital 3-2 win at Liverpool in the latest round of the Women Super League. 

 The impressive Rinsola Babajide had given Liverpool a surprise lead against Joe Montemurro’s side, breaking clear to slide the ball past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in the Arsenal goal.

England international, Jordan Nobbs then sparked a dramatic three-minute turn around for the Gunners. She provided the cross for Vivianne Miedema to steer home.  Nobbs then scored herself with a powerful header into the top corner.

Rachel Furness however was able to draw the reds level before half time after capitalising on a defensive error from Arsenal full back Lisa Evans.

In the second half, just when it looked like the defending champions were going to drop crucial points, their star striker Miedema again popped up with a critical header to secure the Gunners first win in three WSL games.

Arsenal’s WSL rivals Chelsea and Manchester City both secured home victories against relegation threatened Birmingham City and Bristol City respectively.

Beth England managed to keep up her impressive WSL scoring record for the Blues by grabbing the crucial second and her 13thof the campaign, to help secure a 2-0 victory over the Midlands Club.

In Alan Mahon’s first game in charge of Manchester City meanwhile, Gemma Bonner’s second minute goal was enough to earn the Citizens a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

A 2-0 victory for Reading over East London side West Ham United was enough to move them up to fourth above Casey Stoney’s Manchester United team, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Hope Powell’s Brighton & Hove Albion.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Everton in a fiery encounter at their Hive Stadium.

Goals from the Toffees top scorer, Chloe Kelly and Inessa Kaagman had put the Merseyside club in control, however Spurs’ substitute Angela Addison and a long-range free kick from Emma Mitchell earned the North London side a share of the spoils.

February 23rdMatch Previews

Everton vs Manchester United (12:30pm Kick-off)

There is just one point and one place separating these two sides and is a crucial match in the race for finishing fourth.

Casey Stoney’s team have won just once on the road in their past five visits and that was against relegation threatened Birmingham City.

Everton’s home form meanwhile has been pretty good in recent weeks and they have only lost to Manchester City and Arsenal in their last five home games.

Manchester United however won both the previous meetings between the sides including a 3-0 victory at Everton last November in the Continental Tyres Cup.

Prediction Everton 2-0 win

We fancy the Toffees to secure their first win over Manchester United this time around with recently called up England striker, Chloe Kelly proving the difference. 

Birmingham City vs Bristol City (2pm)

This is certainly a relegation six pointer between these two midlands’ clubs.

Bristol City are currently bottom of the Super League but could move up to 10thwith a win over rivals Birmingham City.

Both sides come into this one not in the best of form and have only managed wins in cup games in recent weeks.

The Blues do boast a strong record against the Robins having won five of their previous six encounters including a 2-0 win in the league’s reverse fixture last December.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1-0 win

We believe that Birmingham City will secure the crucial three points in tense encounter. 

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)

Hope Powell’s Brighton side come into this one in good form having just lost one of their last five matches.  They have also only lost just once at home in 2020, against defending champions Arsenal.

Spurs meanwhile have been relatively inconsistent in their first season in the WSL so far, however they do find themselves well clear of relegation at this point.

The North London side won the only encounter between the sides back in December in a closely fought 1-0 game at The Hive Stadium.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We are going for another home win in this one, the Seagulls have been strong at home in recent weeks and we are anticipating them to put on another strong showing in front of their own fans.  

Manchester City vs Chelsea (2pm)

This is arguably the title decider and featured game of the weekend.

Both of these sides are in terrific form, Chelsea are still unbeaten throughout this campaign yet they currently sit second, one point behind their latest opponents Manchester City.

Emma Hayes’ side do however crucially have a game in hand over the Citizens and the home team also come into this one with a newly appointed manager in Alan Mahon, who is taking charge of just his second match.

The West London club won the only meeting of the season so far in 2-1 win at Kings Meadow.

Presently that remains to date  Chelsea’s only victory over Manchester City.

Prediction 1-1 draw

We do not think there is much to split these two teams and we believe this will be a score draw.

West Ham United vs Liverpool (3pm)

West Ham United have been struggling in recent weeks with just one win in their past five games.  That came against Brighton in mid-January.

Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool however have been putting in some good performances recently without getting results, they certainly challenged defending champions Arsenal last time out.

Liverpool’s record against the Hammers is also a good one; they have won two of their three encounters and drew 1-1 against them earlier this season.

Prediction Liverpool 3-1 win

The Merseyside club have been impressive in recent weeks and with the likes of Rinsola Babajide and Rachel Furness in the side we think that they will fire Liverpool to a crucial three points. 

Alan Mahon – the right man for the Manchester City Woman’s job?

Following Nick Cushing’s abrupt departure from Manchester City to take on the role of Assistant Manager at the New York men’s side in the MLS at the start of February, 24/7 football takes a closer look at the man entrusted with leading on of the top sides in the WSL. 

Playing career

Alan Mahon began his professional football career at Tranmere Rovers in 1995.

He made a total of 144 appearances for the club over a five-year period that included a Football League Cup final appearance at Wembley in the year 2000, where Rovers lost 2-1 to Martin O’Neil’s Leicester City.

In the same year Mahon earned his two international caps with the Republic of Ireland in Friendly’s against Greece and South Africa respectively.

The Irishman then secured arguably the biggest move of his career later that year as he was signed by Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon.

During his year spell with the club he featured in the team that lost 4-0 to Real Madrid.  The Madrid team had already qualified for the knockout rounds but it still included the likes of Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Claude Makelele.

Mahon said:

“I was playing a team like Crewe a few months ago and all of a sudden I am playing Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in the Champions League. I look back on it now with a lot of happiness – one of the highlights of my career.”

Due to his lack of games in Lisbon however he moved back to England on loan to Blackburn Rovers where he would go on to make the move permanent and help the Lancashire club gain promotion to the Premier League.

Further spells with Wigan and Burnley followed before he finished his career where it all began, at Tranmere Rovers.  The Irishman retired in 2011.

Coaching  experience to this point

Mahon has been involved with the Manchester City set up since 2013 as mainly Nick Cushing’s Assistant Manager.

The advantage of his appointment certainly seems to be the sense of continuity.

When asked about his interim successor Cushing said:

“Alan hasn’t been a head coach but he’s got an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in the game.”

Indeed Cushing took on the Manchester City role himself back in 2013 at the time he did not have much experience in the women’s game and went on to achieve three league cups, two FA Cups and an unbeaten league title winning campaign.

One thing that cannot be ignored however is that Mahon is taking over at a challenging point in the season, title rivals Chelsea are still to lose a match and are just a point behind in the WSL table, the blues have also crucially got a game in hand.

The Citizens are also still in the FA Cup as well so there is still the chance of securing another piece of silverware.

Whether or not Mahon can develop the same successful relationship as a manager with his players as his predecessor remains to be seen.

How do you think Mahon will get on at City? Is he the right man for the job? Feel free to let 24/7 Football know your thoughts.