In some senses, it is all change at Manchester City going into the new season. After manager of six years Nick Cushing departed in February, they spent three months in lockdown limbo until replacement Gareth Taylor was announced. Then, last month, new signings Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis joined from the USA to shake things up, in what has been a transitional summer.
But at its core, it remains a hub for top England internationals, led by Lionesses and City captain Steph Houghton to help ground them. She says despite the changes, it has been all business since Taylor arrived in late May.
“Over lockdown we were a little bit uncertain, but at the same time, as soon as [Gareth] was named it was kind of ‘let’s get straight to work’. For me personally, and a few of the girls that have been at City for a long time, we’ve known Gareth as he’s been the coach of the Under-18s [boys] for a number of years and I watched his coaching sessions – I had the utmost respect for him before he was announced as our manager. So it’s been an exciting few weeks.”
She admits his approach has been an adjustment though. “I thought he was really nice but he’s quite quick to have a go at us if it’s not perfect,” she chuckles. “But look, I think that’s for us as players we need to be challenged. As older experienced players we need to be pushed. I’ve been really impressed with his standards, in terms of on and off the pitch, and what he really wants out of his training sessions and the details that he gives. For us as players it was a bit strange at first but once we’ve got to know each other more, I think you understand the reasons and the concepts of what he’s trying to deliver on a daily basis.
“It’s like a clean slate. We’ve got everything to prove to make sure we’re named on the team-sheet over the next few big games that are coming up, but ultimately it’s about building a squad that can compete at every single level, over the next season.”