Manchester United Women’s Struggles: Dissecting the Downturn in Fortunes

Seven months ago, Manchester United Women’s team showcased an impressive performance in the Women’s Super League, challenging Chelsea until the final day of the 2022-23 title race. However, the current season paints a starkly different picture as they find themselves trailing leaders Chelsea by seven points, raising questions about their prospects in the 2023-24 title race.

In a surprising turn of events, the men’s team fared better than their female counterparts in a recent clash with Liverpool, leaving Marc Skinner’s side with a 2-1 defeat. This setback, coupled with Chelsea’s victory over Bristol City, has widened the gap to seven points, with United winning only five out of their ten league games this season.

Following the loss, discontent among the fanbase was palpable, with some chanting ‘Skinner Out’ after the match. The concerns extend beyond the pitch as key players like Mary Earps and Leah Galton approach the final six months of their contracts. The optimism from the previous season has faded, prompting a closer look at what went wrong.

Manchester United’s performance leading into the WSL’s winter break has been subpar, dropping points in half of their games. The seven-point gap behind Chelsea, along with trailing behind Man City and Arsenal, reflects a team struggling to maintain consistency and compete at the highest level.

Frustration mounts as each result carries its unique disappointments. In a crucial October clash with Arsenal, United squandered a 2-1 lead in the dying moments, dropping two points against a title rival. A subsequent draw with Leicester and defeat in the Champions League qualifier against PSG highlighted vulnerabilities.

November’s draw with Brighton exposed issues with finishing chances and defensive lapses. A defeat to Manchester City further underscored tactical shortcomings. Although they rebounded with victories against Bristol City and Tottenham, the recent loss to Liverpool has left them seemingly out of contention for the title.

The inconsistency on the field can, in part, be attributed to a major squad overhaul during the summer. With nine new arrivals and a significant number of departures, totaling around 22 players, approximately 15 of whom were first-team members, the squad underwent substantial changes.

The departure of key players, including Ona Batlle and Alessia Russo, was particularly impactful. Injuries have further compounded their challenges, with players like Irene Guerrero, Emma Watson, Gabby George, and Hinata Miyazawa facing setbacks, disrupting the team’s adjustment to the new season.

Navigating a multitude of changes, both in terms of personnel and injuries, has proven challenging for Manchester United Women. As they strive to address these issues and regain momentum, the road to recovery will be pivotal in determining their fortunes for the remainder of the season.