Jackie Groenen has quickly made herself at home at Manchester United since her summer move from FFC Frankfurt and she has been welcomed with open arms.
The Manchester United faithful were quick to take her to their hearts and with her constant and infectious positive demeanour and tenacious work rate it’s easy to understand why.
Following a tough defeat away at West Ham United last weekend, The Red Devils returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over a stern Everton side on Sunday and Groenen spoke of the effort needed in the lead up to the fixture.
“It’s been a hard week for us, we’re not used to losing but we’ve worked well” stated the midfielder when speaking to FA Women’s Super League Full-Time.
“We’re a team that doesn’t like losing so last week was a big disappointment for us as a group and it was very important for us to get the three points to bounce back from it.”
United did not get off to the best of starts against The Blues Girls when, just two minutes in, they fell a goal behind. The home team soon flipped the game on it’s head to make it 2-1 minutes later. Groenen looked back on her sides chaotic start by adding “As a team we know what we can do, we know that we can play well.
“Obviously, it is not the way you plan it but sometimes things happen in a game and then you have to react so I think we’ve done that really well as a group.
“It’s nice to know that even when you do go down you feel like you can turn it around.”
As if reading from the ‘Casey Stoney Book Of Perfectionism’ it appears the United manager’s high standards and drive for excellence has rubbed off on the Netherlands international.
She added “I think there’s a lot of things we could have actually done better today.
“I think in possession we could’ve been a lot more clinical and more clean.
Despite mainly playing as an attacking midfielder, Groenen has become an integral part of United’s defensive unit. The player points out the resistance which United put up limited Everton to just three shots on target.
“I think we defended well as a group” said Groenen. “I think we were on top of them.
“We didn’t give them space to create a chance.
“I think it was only the goal and maybe one or two loose shots but for the rest of the time we’ve done that really well.”
A large portion of the plaudits for Sunday’s result fell on Groenen’s teenage teammate Lauren James. the midfielder scored twice to take her total in the league to five goals, leaving her joint-second alongside Chelsea’s Beth England and Groenen was more than willing to heap praise on United’s top scorer.
The Dutch international said “She’s strong, she’s physical, and she knows how to find the goal. It’s very nice to see that she is doing so well and if she keeps working hard she should make the England squad soon.”
Speaking of international football, with UEFA recently announcing the preliminary venues and dates for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 in England, Groenen was also asked about the prospect of playing at Leigh Sports Village with The Netherlands.
“Yeah it will be really nice, I hope we play England here” she joked.
In addition, the possibility of international club contests gracing United’s home ground in the near future has also become all the more likely. Alongside the UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 news, UEFA also declared last week that the FA Women’s Super League’s UEFA Women’s Champions League places will be expanded from two to three. This opens the door to sides like Manchester United and Everton who are sitting just outside the top three, to potentially claim a place in European football’s premier club competition. However, for Groenen this news changes very little.
The player added “I think it’s a motivation for us but it’s also a motivation for us if it’s two so it doesn’t really change what we want to do and what we want to accomplish at this club but obviously it gives you an extra spot to the Champions League so it is in your mind.”
As the fixtures against Everton and West Ham United attest, the road for The Red Devils is not always going to be a smooth one but it is clear that this will not distract them from their long term visions for success.