Are Man Utd favourites for first time in the WSL derby? – BBC Sport

Ella Toone, Gareth Taylor, Alex Greenwood and Marc Skinner
Manchester City are one of two teams in the WSL (also Chelsea) that Manchester United have failed to beat in the competition

“Manchester is blue” has been the familiar outcome following recent Women’s Super League derbies between two of football’s newest rivals.

Manchester United, only formed in May 2018, have never beaten City in three meetings in the WSL but for the first time on Saturday, they might just be the favourites.

New boss Marc Skinner, who takes charge of his first derby when the teams meet at Leigh Sports Village at 13:30 BST, live on BBC One, says “it doesn’t matter” who the favourites are.

City are enduring their longest-ever losing run in the WSL, sit five places below United in the table and have just one win from their opening four games – so is it time to pounce?

“Are we in a better place than Manchester City are right now? I don’t know what their plans are,” Skinner said.

“If we are the favourites, then we’re the favourites. It doesn’t really bother me. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that we focus.

“Sometimes the favourites switch off. I don’t want my players to switch off. If we have to be the underdogs, or the favourites on the day, we need to get it right to put the best performance out.

“We know [City] might have hit a bump in the road but they’re a quality team with quality players – as we are. But we all know in three or four games it can flip so we have to stay focused.”

‘It will get better’ – Taylor

WSL table
Manchester United currently sit six points above Manchester City in the WSL table

West Ham’s 2-0 win over City last week condemned Gareth Taylor’s side to their third successive league defeat, coming a month after their elimination from the Champions League in the qualifying stages.

City’s struggles have been compounded by an injury crisis following a pre-season truncated by the Olympic Games in the summer.

And the pressure is mounting. Taylor was forced to address questions on his future earlier this week – to which he remained defiant – and when pressed about whether a local derby raised the stakes even more, he simply replied: “No.

“We’re really in a tough moment. It will get better. We have to take responsibility and finish our chances off,” the City boss added.

“It’s a big game. It’s a derby game. I can’t wait for that game. We know we need to be more potent in the final third. It’s about making sure we stick to our way of play and our process.”

‘Everybody wants to say Manchester is blue’

Janine Beckie and Hayley Ladd in the Manchester derby
Janine Beckie was on the Manchester City bench the last time the teams met in the WSL

City are one of only two sides that United have not yet beaten in the WSL, along with Chelsea, and they will hope to keep it that way on Saturday.

The last league meeting between the sides saw City run out 3-0 winners in February.

City, last season’s runners-up, have gone into previous encounters as the favourites – in terms of stature in the women’s game, league position and results.

But for City’s Canada international Janine Beckie, the feeling of winning a Manchester derby does not get old.

“Before I moved here, my brother was a Manchester United fan and he called me a traitor when I signed,” Beckie told Football Focus.

“I had no idea what this rivalry was like until I got here and I played in one. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. To be able to play in one – and be on the blue side – is super special. It has just become something.

“Manchester is such a special place, and football has such a special place in Manchester, so when the derby is over everybody wants to say ‘oh, Manchester is blue’. Everybody wants to have that title and that alone is motivation in itself.”

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