Not always firing on all cylinders, the 2017-18 season was more about the correct laying of foundations for Marc Skinner to build on, getting the team playing his brand of football. Now with the league facing its most competitive season yet, is it time for Birmingham City to kick on and return to European football?
Ins and outs
With far less of an overhaul this season, the door at Solihull Moors has been swinging regularly, but too often it’s been for departing players. Having lost Emily Westwood to retirement at the end of last season, Freda Ayisi and Maddy Cusack both left for Championship side Leicester City as Coral-Jade Haines made her move to Tottenham a permanent one. Much like Haines, Sophie Baggaley made last season’s temporary home in Bristol her full-time one completing a summer move to the Vixens as fellow ‘keeper Fran Stenson moved to Manchester City. A team built on young players, the squad took two further hits with Abbey-Leigh Stringer leaving for Everton and Jess Carter moving to champions, Chelsea.
There was good news for the fans however with the majority of last season’s starters penning new deals, with Kerys Harrop, Connie Scofield, Sarah Mayling, Lucy Quinn, Marisa Ewers, Emma Follis and Paige Williams all committing their futures. In addition, Lucy Staniforth made the move from Sunderland and soon found her place within the squad as young Scot, Chloe Arthur joined from Bristol City and Harriet Scott moved from Reading.
Defence to attack
Under former manager David Parker, the Blues often relied on her defensive sensibilities, looking to strike a balance across the pitch, Skinner has eased the team into a more attacking style. Taking time, the team hasn’t always looked too assured with the style although, it was clear that things were really starting to click over the second half of last season.
Despite the player departures, it’s clear with the recruitment that Skinner is keen for his team to attack more. Claiming the golden boot last season with 15 goals in 14 appearances, Ellen White fast found her feet at her new home and save for an injury or two, may have lead the Blues to a higher finish. Paired with an in-form Staniforth, Birmingham shouldn’t want for goals this season, but the questions over how they’ll fare against the big guns in the league remain.