Gareth Taylor highlights the importance of retaining the trophy ahead of Sunday's FA Cup final
Taylor spoke to the press ahead of Sunday's game

Manchester City travel to Wembley Stadium on Sunday to face Everton in the final of the 2019/20 FA Cup, which was pushed back after the WSL was curtailed at the end of last season.

It will be the blues' second visit of this campaign, having lost 2-0 against Chelsea in the first Community Shield since 2008, albeit they did not have the same players available as they now do.

A stellar performance from USWNT international Sam Mewis on the 1st October against Arsenal booked City a ticket to the final for the third time in a row.

Lionesses' early return

A number of Manchester City's players were a part of England's latest camp and were due to play Germany on Tuesday before that fixture was cancelled. For Taylor's side, the decision may be a helpful one:

"I suppose, yeah. To be honest, I was pretty comfortable with either situation, it's great obviously getting the girls back to have an extra couple of days [preparation] because we would have only ever had three days leading.

"But also, I was quite comfortable with the fact that the girls were going out and playing a game. I think, as long as when they go along with their various nations they don't undertrain - I think that can be a problem as well, most managers will be concerned about overtraining, overplaying, picking up injuries - but we would have dealt with the fallout no matter what would have happened, so it was just a case of being grateful that we got them back a little bit earlier.

"We had to change things around a little bit, in the structure of the week, but it was great to get them back and for them to have that normality of having an extra day or two to go into a decent game."

He also confirmed that Caroline Weir returned to the squad yesterday, after suffering a concussion which had kept her out of the City squad prior to the international break.

Form goes out the window

It has not been the ideal start to the season for the blues, sitting fifth in the table and having drawn against both Brighton and Reading, as well as losing to Chelsea. However, for a game as big as a cup final, there is a sense that previous form does not matter:

"In the cup competitions, we've won every game, so other teams have made a better start than us but they haven't had, potentially, apart from Everton, those cup competition wins as well.

"I've said to the girls that I don't think we're a million miles away from really clicking into top form, our performances have been good - that's the main thing. It's just the game will never change, it's in both boxes, we have to defend well, we have to score goals, but there's been some really promising moments between.

"I think I can see signs now of us bedding in, obviously, it's new for me, new for the girls as well with a new coach. We're competing against teams that have had that continuity of a manager being in place for a long time, so that can take time. The early signs I've been really pleased with, but there's lots more work to do."

What can he draw from his own experiences?

Both as a player and a manager, Taylor has featured on the big stage a number of times, including being a part of the team in Manchester City's historic second-division playoff game against Gillingham. When it comes to what he can take from past experience, he hopes the game can be treated just the same as any other, despite what is at stake:

"Probably just trying to normalise it as much as possible and keep following the processes. Sometimes you can let big games, big occasions get the better of you, and that's certainly happened to me in the past as a player, so I think it's just about making sure we go about our normal business. 

"We treat the game like any other game, which I difficult because we know it's a final. But I think it's just keeping it as normal as we possibly can, getting the girls to follow the processes that we work to with and without the ball and focus on the kind of things that we can effect and that are within our hands."

Increased COVID-19 cases

Sport around the globe has begun to struggle once again with an increased number of positive tests for COVID-19 in squads, with the Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship recording ten last week. However, from Gareth Taylor's point of view, he is proud of the way the medical department at City has worked to create a safe environment:

"We've been really fortunate in so much as we haven't had any positive tests, particular from our point of view and our female bubble, so we're fairly proud of that. It tells us that we're doing the right things and we're taking all the necessary precautions that we can and not taking risks.

"It's a really cautious situation where it only takes one poor decision or interaction with a person and all of a sudden you've got two or three issues. For us, we've had many conversations, even though we have been successful in our tests, that we're reinforcing our protocols. 

"Sometimes our protocols will change in terms of what we can and can't do, but the medical department at our place has been top. The girls have been really heavily informed, as have the staff."

'Sunday stands alone'

Despite some underwhelming performances in the league, Sunday could be an opportunity for Gareth Taylor's side to confirm the good work that they have been doing so far:

"Sunday stands alone for me. It's an opportunity to win a trophy and it would be a great moment if we do, there's no getting away from that. I think we need to look at this competition being completely different to the WSL, the WSL for me, our performances have been pretty good. We're not a million miles away from being where we want to be but I think we've got plenty of times to catch up in terms of picking up a really good run of results, I think other teams will take points off one another as well.

"I think it would be confirmation of the good work we're doing, looking towards the future, but again, outside of this, if we're not successful, we'll still keep the same processes and still keep working hard to achieve our objectives and there will be other competitions to look at.

"I don't want to take it away from Sunday, this is really important for us, important for me and important for all of the staff that we do well on Sunday."

More to follow