Manchester United manager Casey Stoney had no complaints about her side’s 1-0 defeat to Bristol City at the Leigh Sports Village on Sunday and she was brutally honest in her assessment of the result.
United have exceeded expectations so far this season in the FA Women’s Super League after being promoted from the FA Women’s Championship.
Stoney’s side went into the match having registered five wins so far this season and despite narrow defeats to Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea, the quality has been there for all to see.
Prior to last weekend, the only real blemish for Stoney’s side was a defeat away at West Ham United after giving away three sloppy goals late on. However, she was in mood to sugar coat her team’s performance following their shock 1-0 defeat to Bristol City on Sunday when speaking to FA Women’s Super League Full-Time.
She said “I think sometimes you get what you deserve in football.
“We weren’t at our best today. I thought we missed too many chances, some simple ones as well.”
Stoney also refused to praise her misfiring Reds despite hitting the woodwork twice and registering 26 shots on goal.
“For me, there are no positives to take from today” the United boss admitted.
“We’ve been saying since the first game on 7 September that we’re creating chances and not taking them.
“We did it at The Etihad, we did it against Arsenal, we’ve done it game after game, after game.”
Even though Manchester United have the joint-fourth highest goalscoring record in the league this season, their finishing in-front of goal has been the source of some minor criticism. Stoney didn’t want to take credit away from Bristol City’s disciplined and valiant performance.
When analysing the opposition, she said “Bristol were organised today, they came, they stifled us, they slowed the game down.
“We didn’t play to our standards, we didn’t move the ball quick enough.
“If you go one, two, three nil up that doesn’t happen.
“The goalkeeper can’t time waste and they’re absolutely going to do that, they’re bottom of the table and we’ve given them three points.”
Never one to focus on purely the attacking side of the game, Stoney’s attention then turned to the goal scored by former United player Ebony Salmon.
“We knew Ebony would pose a threat and we’ve not defended that very well either” added the United boss.
That effort was Bristol City’s only shot on target in the entire 90 minutes, it is therefore real cause for concern that their defence was breached during the only instance in which they were challenged. Yet for Stoney, the finger of blame only points in one direction.
“I have to take full responsibility in terms of preparation and setting the team up and making sure that we can score goals and we obviously didn’t do that today” she said.
“I’ll be honest, I’ll go home and massively reflect on myself because we brought them (the United players) back in early.
“They’ve worked hard, they’ve worked well on the training pitch this week so there’s lots of questions to be answered of myself.
“I’ll do that over the next 48 hours and it’s my job to prepare the team, get them lifted again and we’ve got a big game against Liverpool next week.”
That away trip to bitter rivals Liverpool sees United take on another struggling side like Sunday’s opponents Bristol City. Manchester United boss Stoney is not looking towards that fixture just yet with plenty on analysis left on the agenda.
She added “We need to review this first, It’s a big period of reflection.
“You learn so much more when you lose and we need to learn a lot from today, individually and collectively.
“I’ll be changing the team, we can’t perform like that and think that people can keep their shirts.”
There will be a few nervous faces around the Manchester United dressing room as they fret over whose name is on the manager’s chopping block. With that being said, it could be ample opportunity for some fringe players to stake their claims for regular starting spots.