Erling Haaland is not the only goal machine at Manchester City – Khadija Shaw tops WSL charts

Erling Haaland is not the only goal machine at Manchester City - Bunny Shaw tops WSL charts - PA/Gareth Fuller
Erling Haaland is not the only goal machine at Manchester City - Bunny Shaw tops WSL charts - PA/Gareth Fuller

Erling Haaland isn't the only Manchester City striker who is taking the goalscoring charts by storm this season.

Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw is also comfortably leading the race for the Golden Boot award in the Women's Super League and, just like the club's men's team's Norwegian lethal finisher, she is rattling along at a rate of more than a goal-per-game in all competitions.

In the WSL alone, Jamaica striker Shaw has scored 15 times in 15 league matches this term ahead of Sunday's visit of defending champions Chelsea, but as the 26-year-old explained as she spoke exclusively to Telegraph Sport, she did not make the transition to playing up front until surprisingly late in her career development.

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It was when she was playing in the US college system in 2017-18 that her coach at the University of Tennessee, Brian Pensky said he wanted her to switch from an attacking midfielder to playing as a central number nine.

"I thought he was just joking when he said it first. I was just telling him ‘I’ve never played that position in my life’ and then he was like 'Don't worry about it'," Shaw recalled.

"[He told me to] take 15-30 minutes after every training session to get familiar with it and eventually I just got used to it just by the repetitions."

The thing that's become repetitive now for Shaw is finding the net - in all competitions for Manchester City this season she has scored 26 goals in 23 games. That's the highest tally any player has managed for their women's team since they turned professional.


Their women play fewer matches per season than their male counterparts because the WSL only contains 12 clubs, but the regularity with which she and Haaland are both scoring is remarkable.

Shaw is full of admiration as she sums up Haaland's numbers by simply saying "It’s crazy...He's crazy!". She says the pair are yet to meet since his transfer to the club last summer but adds: "Hopefully, before the end of the season we can connect."

Haaland has hit the ground running immediately in the English game, while Shaw is now in her second season with the club.

She arrived in England in 2021 with a formidable form guide from her spell with Bordeaux, which had seen her score 22 times in 20 French top-flight league fixtures in the 2020-21 campaign.


Her first season in the Women’s Super League, last year, was relatively modest by comparison, but she still managed to score nine times in nine WSL starts.

She doesn't appear to like bragging about her goals tally but does believe the reason for her increased scoring rate this year has been her adaptation to the WSL, saying:

"Last year, I didn't really know much about the league obviously. I had to adjust and get used to the playing style. My team-mates definitely played a part, helping me feel comfortable.

I'm just staying more calm, and being more aware of the space inside of the final third, because at the end of the day that’s my area, that’s where I need to be best at, where I can help the team, so [whether] it's a scruffy pass or the perfect cross, just don’t get frustrated.


"For me, a goal is a goal. as long as it’s getting us closer to the three points, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a tap-in or a screamer for me. We need to win games to win the league so we need to score goals. In my position, that’s the requirement basically."

Shaw is also her country's record goalscorer and has helped Jamaica qualify for this summer's Women's World Cup. Over a five-month spell in 2022 she scored 10 times in five international games for Jamaica. They will face France, Brazil and Panama in Group F Down Under [20 July - 20 August].

"The World Cup, that's a kid’s dream. I just can't wait for it," continued Shaw, whose football journey began playing in the road outside her family's home in Spanish Town, although initially her parents did not want her to play because they felt football presented no future for her.


"I remember we had stones in the streets [for goalposts] so when the cars were passing we had to take the stones up for the car to pass and put the stones back down to play. I really enjoy the memories of my journey, to where I am now.

"With the lack of opportunities, there wasn't a senior team at that point. So she just felt like I would have been wasting my time. I used to hide and wait until my Mum went to the grocery store and then I would go out and play.

"Then I think I was 13 at the time when my national team coach called my Mum and told her that they were inviting me to the Under-15 national team. My mom packed pillows, sheets and everything for me, so when it was time for me to go, I said 'Mum, why am I taking a house to this camp?' That's how excited she was. I still joke with her now saying 'do you remember when you didn't want me to play? Look at you now!

"I've always said to her, 'Mum, what if I could be the one to change the way people view female football in Jamaica?’ and she would always like, brush me aside and then now it’s like, ‘See, I was right’."


Before the World Cup, Manchester City have a WSL title to chase, as they look to bounce back from last Sunday's extra-time defeat at Aston Villa in the Women's FA Cup quarter-finals when they host Chelsea in a huge clash of two of the English women's game's biggest rivals, this Sunday [12.40, live on BBC One, with coverage from 12.25] at the Academy Stadium.

"It's a very important game for us, that could be one of the title-defining games in the last seven games," Shaw added. "We have to trust the process and play the way we know. When we get the fine margins right, we can beat any team in this league."

When it comes to the Golden Boot race, Shaw is already well on her way to doing that.