Man Utd boss confirms defender set for spell on the side ahead of WSL opener - press conference in full

Manchester United boss Marc Skinner spoke to the press ahead of the WSL opener against Aston Villa on Sunday. Cr. Getty ImagesManchester United boss Marc Skinner spoke to the press ahead of the WSL opener against Aston Villa on Sunday. Cr. Getty Images
Manchester United boss Marc Skinner spoke to the press ahead of the WSL opener against Aston Villa on Sunday. Cr. Getty Images | Getty Images
Manchester United boss Marc Skinner spoke to the press ahead of their opening game of the Women's Super League (WSL) season against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Manchester United boss Marc Skinner was in fine form as he gave his first pre-match press conference of the new WSL season.

His side are on the hunt for their very first WSL title this season after finishing narrowly behind Chelsea in May but face a tough task away to Carla Ward's Aston Villa on Sunday as the sides kick off the new campaign in the Midlands.

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It has been a summer of change for the Red Devils, with big name signings such as Champions League winners Geyse and Melvine Malard arriving in the summer alongside experienced defender Gabby George and World Cup golden boot winner Hinata Miyazawa.

We caught up with Marc for the first time this season ahead of the weekend's game and here's everything he said ahead of the game with Aston Villa on October 1.

Team news - update on Jayde Riviere and Aoife Mannion

"Basically, when we played Bayern Munich (in pre-season) she blocked a shot and it kind of adjusted her knee a little bit. Nothing too serious but she was on her rehab phase to come back. She will train this morning and is in contention for Sunday.

"Aoife won't make this game. Aoife had a quad issue where she is maybe about eight to 10 weeks away. A little tear in her quad. She will be fine after that, she is back on rehab - that's the only one.

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On Emma Watson's ACL injury

"Emma is one of those unique characters that is mature beyond her years. She is a 17 year old but really she is 27 in her mentality and her professionalism.

"It is devastating news for her and us. She was doing so well in pre-season and would have featured throughout the season in a growing role. We've already seen the outpouring of love from players - people like Aoife Mannion who have been through this themselves - they were sitting together the other day and breakfast and Aoife has been walking with her up and down while on her crutches.

"We have a great medical department. She will be looked after very well. It was a weird situation to come back from international duty - same for Caroline Weir unfortunately. Two very good players. I can promise we will look after her and make sure she comes back in an even better position than she is."

On his summer business - and outgoings

"I want to go on record to thank all the players that have gone out. This job we are doing is really unique in terms of - we had 19 go out and nine in. We had to progress quickly, some players will be for a season, some will be for three seasons. That will depend on how far we go, if we are going to compete in Champions League, we need a bigger squad with bigger depth.

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"But I want to thank all those players for taking Manchester United to where we are now. I said it to them personally but I also want to thank them in public.

"It was really important we added players who could make individual decisions. If you're in big games - I look at the FA Cup final and that game was won by Sam Kerr - I felt that we had Chelsea tactically and that they weren't as fluid as they have been and Sam Kerr wins the game because Pernille Harder runs the channel - we have those players, but we needed more.

"We were replacing Alessia and Ona, of course, so we needed that level of player and I am really happy with quality we've got and not only that but the personalities. When they walk in the building they back themselves and trust themselves and that floods into the team."

On the vacant assistant manager role

"We are still looking to fill the assistant role because I think it is really important we get the right person not only for myself, but for the team. Still looking at that role. We are looking into and delving into certain people and having good conversations - hopefully that will be pretty quick.

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On how to bridge the margin to Chelsea

"There's balance. I felt our team lacked a left footed balance last year. I felt that we could be predictable at times. It's about having the tools in the top line with the skill-sets we have to unlock. If we can, it is about improving that defensive record as well because there's some goals in there that we wouldn't be happy with - if we do that we'll set records as well.

"There's going to a balance for us this year. You've got to beat the other top four teams, beating Chelsea is another hurdle we have to overcome. We were closer to Chelsea than we had been previously last year, but we need to close the gap again.

"From year to year three now, I have experiences of what we've done together. That's hugely important."

On international break

"For me, one of the things that factors in. I watched England's performances and it was a usual England performance, not as fluid as they usually are and as they have been.

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"There's just come off a World Cup, coming into an important game and had two difficult opponents and yet we were not at the races because the girls need to mentally reset as well as physically reset. I think we do a good job of that.

"I hope it doesn't have a lag into the season. We all want this energetic start, I have a prediction and I might get it wrong but I imagine every game in this opening weekend will end up walking football at the end. The last 20 minutes will be like walking football because they'll be people that are fatigued and are not up to scratch. From my perspective, it is crazy to just shovel games in - get the format and intent. It is a strange window and will lead into a strange cohesion going into all of their markets not just England - it definitely wasn't ideal.

On Aston Villa

"I'm sure Carla (Ward) will face pressures of her own this year because it was kay when you're alost the underdog and punching above. When a club invests there's a pressure on you to win, she will find those pressure herself this year and I'm sure she will deal with them as she will.

"From my perspective, I've always thought that Villa on any day could beat one of the top four teams.

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