Lauren Smith has stated that her team won’t be showing Manchester United too much respect ahead of their WSL clash this weekend.

Confidence in and around the Robins camp is rising, especially after claiming a draw away to Everton last week.

Against the big teams, City are also improving their performances. You only need to look at their game against Arsenal to see how quickly they are adapting to WSL life.

A game against last season’s runners-up represents another good test for Smith, but she says her team won’t be showing a lot of respect to the Red Devils.

Manchester United have a very aggressive style of play. They want to get in behind straight away and are quick in everything they want to do.

“They go in after everything, so for us, we need to be patient to start with, but also not give them too much respect.

“I think we’ve showed the league that we can wait, we will create some good opportunities, and we’ve got the ability to score through a number of different players.

“Hopefully, there will be enough of a threat from us to stop them from going all gung-ho. But if they do, it will leave it open for us to counter into.”

United do possess a myriad of strengths, particularly in their forward line.

Smith knows City will have to be brave on Sunday, but if they can do that, they may reap the rewards of being so.

“United are relentless with their frontline movement and with the players they have up top, they can sometimes have five players running at your backline.

“We need to make sure that we’re switched on for those things and be up for the battle.

“I remember Mark Skinner a few years ago talking about grit and determination and we have to have that in the opposite side of it to and make sure it isn’t an easy day out for them.”

Thestrup settling in

A summer signing who looks to be hitting the ground running has been Amalie Thestrup.

The Danish international joined the Robins from PSV, but spent last year on loan with West Ham, where she failed to score.

Nonetheless, Smith knew straight away what the forward could bring to her team and is delighted with how she’s adapted to life in the West Country.

“There were two things with Amalie.

“When we looked at the clubs she had played for and the games she had played in, she created a lot of opportunities but sometimes never got herself on the scoresheet.

“But when we watched her, we thought, there’s something here. It’s not that she’s not scoring because of a reason, it just hasn’t fallen for her.

“When I met her, she was completely in and wanted to be part of Bristol City for the long term, and I thought everything just matched up.

“You want both feet in the door and work hard for the badge, and she did both of those things straight away.

“That’s when I thought, with the quality and the environment we’ve got, we could bring out the best in her. She’s a dream to coach and to be around as well.”

Ashton Gate record

It will be another momentous occasion for Bristol City on Sunday, as they set yet another new attendance record at Ashton Gate.

It’s fair to say the players love playing at the ground, and Smith knows that every time they set foot on the hallowed turf, it’s always for a huge game.

“It’s a big occasion for us once again. I’m really enjoying the fact that every time we play at Ashton Gate, it’s a big game.

“When we played against Arsenal, the performance was outstanding and I felt we were inches away, and we have to remember what that felt like, and this time stay in the game until the end; that’s what the plan is.

“We’ll have more fans there this time to cheer us on and we hope we’ll be able to put a good performance in. We’re very much underdogs but we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Every weekend there seems to be a record broken in the WSL, and interest is at an all-time high.

For Smith, she keeps pinching herself that this interest and hype is happening for her club, and she hopes the good times keep rolling.

“It’s really inspiring that we seem to break records every time we play.

“When you look at the growth of women’s football and the crowds that have been over the past few years, you can look from the outside and say that’s great.

“But when you’re actually there, in the WSL at Ashton Gate, you feel so proud. It’s not something we’re seeing someone else doing, it’s happening for us.

“It’s really positive and I want us to continue to grow and potentially fill the stadium one day.”

VAVEL Logo
About the author