Stoney believes Manchester derby won't be 'season-defining'

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Sportsbeat
·4 min read
Manchester United manager Casey Stoney (Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff)
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Manchester United head coach Casey Stoney admits that Friday's hotly-anticipated Manchester derby is a big game but rejected the notion that the fixture will be season-defining.

It comes after recent unpredictable results in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, which saw United lose to Reading and Chelsea beaten by Brighton & Hove Albion.

In fact, Manchester City were the only team in the top four to win at the weekend, after overcoming Arsenal 2-1.

Those results have changed the dynamic at the top of the table with the blue half of Manchester firmly back in the mix for the title and Friday’s six-pointer between City and United at Academy Stadium appears more important than ever.

But Stoney was keen to stress that defeat wouldn't spell the end of either team's title hopes.

“Sunday tells you it's not season-defining because we lost against Reading so there's lots of games, lots of football to be played," she said.

"Yes, it's a big week because all the so-called 'top four' play each other but teams are capable.

“Brighton took points off Chelsea; Reading took points off us. Who knows what's going to happen, so all we can focus on is each game as it comes.

“Yes, it's a big game but it's another game.”

Last week saw United forward Lauren James receive abhorrent racist abuse via Instagram; she is one of many players to recently share that they have been sent racist comments on social media.

On the pitch, the 19-year-old is set to be sidelined for a few more weeks with an injury that kept her out of the weekend’s action.

And Stoney firmly supported James, stating that she believes more needs to be done to govern social media platforms.

“I've spoken to her; I speak to her every day when she's here and when she's not here,” said the United head coach.

“She's 19 years of age, let's not forget that, she's a very young person living away from home.

“It's hard for me to comprehend sitting here as a white person in terms of actually being able to understand what she lives through every single day, what she's experiencing. It's disgusting, it's utterly disgusting.

“I think the government and the powers that be need to do so much more to govern these social media platforms and we need to stand up, speak up and make it unacceptable that this happens.

“When a player comes to me and says it's kind of water off a duck's back, that is gut-wrenching for me that she has to face that and thinks it's normal. I just cannot get my head around it at all and it does upset me quite a lot, to be honest.

“She's picked up a bit of a quad injury. We're working with her at the moment in terms of planning and making sure that we can get her back as quickly and as safely as possible.

“The international break does us a bit of a favour really as well because we can use that time to really get some work into her.”

The 7pm kick-off on Friday looks set to be a tight affair between the second and third-placed teams in the WSL.

And Stoney highlighted just how strong of a team she thinks that City are but also that the aim for her team is to qualify for European football.

"I think they are one of the best teams in the league right now in terms of their consistency in performances the way they move the ball,” she said.

“Look at the depth in their squad, the money they've spent, they're really hitting form now.

"I think when you can start Rose Lavelle, Lucy Bronze, Abby Dahlkemper, Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp - when you can make those sorts of signings and you have that budget it obviously does make a huge impact. You've got the world's best playing in your back line.

"Our priority has always been Champions League; my target has never changed. I haven't said anything different all season.

"I think potentially looking at the other results, coming off the back of the game I thought it was a must-win.

“I now don't think it will define the season based on the results that happened on Sunday; I think there's potential for that to happen again.

"But, if we were to win, it would help us a lot in terms of Champions League qualification.”