Manchester United have seen a shake up in their defence following a number of comings and goings over the summer and at the centre of that was Abbie McManus.
Since making the move across Manchester from City to United, she has been a stalwart member of Casey Stoney’s side and on Wednesday night she helped guide her side through to the FA Women’s Continental League Cup semi-finals for the second consecutive year.
Still, it was far from a routine victory for The Red Devils as they scraped to a narrow 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Leigh Sports Village.
Defender McManus was well aware of how close her team were pushed. When speaking to FA Women’s Super League Full-Time after the match she said “Obviously, it was a bit hectic, two penalties and a few chances they really should’ve scored.
“We soaked up lot of pressure.
“We need to keep the ball and have a little bit more possession, especially against Tottenham as they’re going to throw all sorts at us.”
Nevertheless, this did not distract McManus from the objective which had been met.
She added “We’ve got the win today and we’re into the hat, so job done for us.”
McManus gave United the lead in the first half when she opened her account for her new club but it was a double celebration for the Lionesses centre-back.
“It was my birthday yesterday, so it was a great way to finish that off” McManus confessed.
“The girls were happy for me and I’m just happy it went in.”
In McManus’ eyes it was very much at team effort that allowed her to get on the scoresheet for the first time.
She said “I’m not going to lie it’s definitely something we’ve worked on in training.
“I’m just glad that something from the training ground actually paid off on the pitch today.”
Routines from set plays is something that Manchester United have clearly spent a lot of time developing on the training ground. Therefore you’d imagine that when one does come off it is a tremendous boost in confidence for the players.
“As a team we’re pushing each other week in, week out in training and the performances are coming on the pitch” admitted the United defender.
“Obviously, we’ve bounced back now with a win.
“It is important that we did get that win especially for team morale to keep pushing each other and take that into Tottenham.”
United will be hoping for a bigger attendance for the meeting against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. There was a modest crowd of just 642 in attendance for the quarter-final tie, which is the lowest at the Leigh Sports Village this season. Understandably, very few Brighton & Hove Albion fans were able to make the long midweek journey for fixture and with the Manchester United men’s team playing at the same time, few would have opted to make the difficult trip to Leigh. Despite this, the home support definitely made their presence felt and McManus praised their unwavering enthusiasm for the women’s team.
She said “The Barmy Army are definitely always behind us and we hear them every step of the way.
“They’re like our 12th player, so we’re happy we’ve got the win especially for them.”
United may very well need their 12th player against Spurs on Sunday following niggles to Leah Galton and Jackie Groenen which meant they weren’t risked midweek and could also miss out once again at the weekend.
With Millie Turner also sustaining an injury in the week that ruled her out of the match completely, there could be even more responsibility on McManus’ shoulders in the coming matches. Yet thus far, she has fitted in nicely at her new club and so you’d imagine she’ll relish any opportunity to push herself further in the future.