Manchester City Women celebrating seven trophies in seven years

Man City won the 2019-20 FA Cup
PA Images

On 24 January 2021, Manchester City Women celebrated their seventh anniversary under their current guise, during which time they have won seven trophies.

To support this milestone, three players who have all played a pivotal role in those successes spoke to mancity.com,

STEPH HOUGHTON

Steph Houghton
PA Images

On the team’s rapid rise

“I think in the first season, the expectations were just to get a foothold in the league and build a team. For me personally, it was about getting used to the mindset and how Nick wanted us to play, and then building from there.

“The second season was probably an eye-opener. We added depth to the squad – more internationals – and we achieved a Champions League place. From that moment, we all knew the next one was going to be the league.

“That gave us the motivation and in the third year, it was a combination of how hard we worked, the additions we made and the belief we had in each other.

“From there, we’ve gone on to win more trophies and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. It’s been an incredible journey.”

On joining City – the risk of leaving Arsenal to join a new team

“It was a massive risk but it’s a risk that paid off. In terms of what I wanted to achieve, I wanted to play full-time and I really believed in the vision that City had.

“When I spoke to the likes of Brian Marwood and Gavin Makel, I really believed that I needed to be part of this Club. I wanted it to be at the forefront and I wanted to be there from the beginning.

“I think that’s why it means so much: when you’ve actually been through the journey – from the time where there were five of us training full-time and the squad were only training together on certain nights because half the us were working – to now…

“We’ve been through it all. When you get to cherish memories like we have – and these memories last forever – it means so much.

“Hopefully, we can achieve a few more in the next few years.”

KAREN BARDSLEY

Karen Bardsley of Manchester City
PA Images

On the team’s rapid rise

“It’s something that excites me when I think about it and it’s something I’m really proud of: the meteoric rise from relative obscurity to 2014 and that journey through to where we are today.

“To see where we are now seven years later, I’m very proud of it.”

On whether she expected success so soon

“Absolutely not! From that first trophy in 2014 to winning a bronze medal at the World Cup in 2015, and then going off the back of that to the double-winning season in 2016…

“In 2016, we really started to show what we were capable of doing – winning the league and the Conti Cup – and then we went on to win the FA Cup in 2017!

“We put together really good back-to-back seasons and we even reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in our first two attempts, having faced top opposition. It was crazy!”

On the moment she started to believe

“For me, the really pivotal moment was when we played Everton at the Etihad Stadium in 2014. It was so cool – the whole atmosphere and the fact we were playing at the stadium for the first time. It made the occasion even more memorable.

“We’d had a difficult start to the season and we were struggling to score. I remember a few times during the game, Nick Cushing kept saying: ‘Just be patient. Stick to the methodology. Trust what we’ve been working on.’

“It was still 0-0 in the dying moments of the game and Natasha Flint scored. We ended up winning 1-0 and it was one of those moments when we really took a big step forward in believing in what we were doing and buying into how we want to play.

“The team had a belief in each other and that feeling of winning felt so good. We wanted to keep that momentum going. For me, that was the pivotal turning point for the club.”

KEIRA WALSH

Man City's Keira Walsh
PA Images

On the team’s rapid rise

“When you consider we’ve not been a professional team for as long as some of the others, to have won seven trophies in seven years is absolutely incredible.

“It just shows what this Club thinks of women’s football and how much it values it. We’ve made rapid progress and to be one of the top teams in the league and Champions League now is amazing.

“If we can keep winning trophies – and we’ve won one already this year – it’s testament to the work everyone involved at this Club puts in. It’s credit to everyone – the players and staff and those behind-the-scenes who aren’t often recognised. Everyone is pushing to be better.

The first trophy: 2014 Conti Cup

“Looking back, that was such a special feeling. We were the underdogs – nobody expected anything of us – but I think that win really kick-started the mentality of the team. We realised we deserved to be in the Final and that it was something we wanted to work towards.

“I don’t think that feeling has ever gone away. I think any of those players would agree: that’s when the ethic changed. We were all thinking: ‘Okay, what’s the next one we can get?’

“That’s the mentality you need to succeed because it’s so competitive. I think the 2014 Final showed that you don’t always have to have the most gifted players – it’s about team togetherness and a winning mentality.

“We rode the storm a little bit in that game and then we came out in the second-half and scored a fantastic goal.

“From there, the belief grew and the Club told us they weren’t just settling for a women’s team, which just goes through the motions – they wanted to push us on to become the best women’s team in the world.

“That’s something we’re all aiming towards now but seven trophies in seven years… I doubt many clubs can say they’ve achieved that – but that just shows what this Club is all about and I’m proud to play for them. Not only is it the Club I support; it’s also the best Club in the world.”

Reading Women’s Emma Harries earns her first professional contact

Would you like to read more women’s football news just like this? Sign up to receive the She Kicks Women’s Football newsletter