Manchester City secured second place in the WSL Spring Series with a comfortable 3-1 win over Liverpool in Widnes. Elsewhere Cheslea’s 2-0 win away to Birmingham City was enough to see them clinch the title on goal difference.,
Despite finishing runners-up it was job done as far as City Manager Nick Cushing; “I said to the players after the Arsenal game that I felt it was out of our hands and that Chelsea would win it on goal difference. We had to make sure after the Arsenal game we started another winning run and we’ve done that. Two games, two wins. I think the pitch is a bit of a leveller but I thought in spells we moved the ball really well and we scored three goals so were really pleased with the win.”
Asked if he was happy with the organisation of the Spring Series competition Cushing was positive but felt that it hadn’t suited his sides recovery time;”I think its good, if you’re not going to get to the semi finals of the Champions League and win the FA Cup, I think its really good cluster of games to bridge the seasons”.
“I think its really positive that we are switching to a winter season. I think the fact that we got the semi finals of the Champions League and the final of the FA Cup has caused us a backlog of fixtures.”
“I think when the people put [the Spring Series] together I don’t think they expected that to happen. I don’t think any team can go 16 weeks with one seven day break but thats not an excuse, Chelsea were the better team, they scored more goals and we’ve just got to go back to the drawing board. I’ve sent for months, and years, we need to score more goals.”
“[The players] are disappointed not to win the Spring Series but if you’d have offered me the FA Cup and second in the Spring Series on goal difference I would have taken that. The FA Cup was our main objective.”
Cushing also talked about the benefits of being able to rotate his squad throughout the competition citing the form of Georgia Stanway as a major positive; “Georgia Stanway, if she is someone who if she replicates her performance at Sunderland [in mid-week] and her performance today; she will play week in, and week out for this team and become the next Keira Walsh.”
The Manchester City manager reserved special praise for 20 year old midfielder Keira Walsh; “I think Keira’s performance’s have brought her right onto the verge of a senior call up and into a matured footballer. We just want to develop football players and develop a team that continue to win.”
“Its not for me to pick Mark [Sampson]’s squad but if I was picking it I would pick [Keira Walsh] because she plays in my team. I know her personality, her character and her ability inside out. Keira’s got to be patient as she’s still a young player even though her appearances are above her age and above her experience she’s got to be patient.”
“People forget that she’s had two half season’s out, she’s actually only played one full season and that’s the spring series and that’s half a season anyway. We’ve got to work Keira hard to make sure we get her for a full season but I think she’s been our best player of the Spring Series for sure.”
Cushing’s revealed that his careful development of Walsh over the previous two years also extended to other uncapped members of the squad; “Our strategy is to bring on young English players and young British players. Abbie McManus falls into that category of Mel Lawley, Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Demi Stokes, Nikita Parris; all those players that we’ve over achieved with really.
“People forget that these players not much experience in WSL and not much experience in internationals. We want Abbie to become a senior international, we want Keira to become a senior international, we want Nikita to get on the pitch and be consistent. All of our players, Mel Lawley, Georgia Stanway, that’s why we push them every day. If we continue to push them not only become senior internationals but we’ll continue to win at club level.”
Following an 18 month stretch of games Cushing admitted that he was relieved to finally be taking a break from City’s hectic schedule; “Go on holiday with my family. Spend some time with my family and switch off from football. We’ve had that many games in such a short space of time that I’m almost sick of football now! In three weeks time I’ll want to come back; I’m excited for the Euro’s.”