‘You’re going to see a world-class goalkeeper’ – Marc Skinner hails Manchester United’s Tullis-Joyce

Manchester United Women goalkeepers Mary Earps (left) and Phallon Tullis-Joyce (right) warming up before the Barclays WSL game with Spurs. (Pedro Porru / Sports Press Photo)

Manchester United Women manager Marc Skinner has backed the Reds’ current goalkeeping understudy Phallon Tullis-Joyce to establish herself as one of the world’s best.

The American joined the club from the NWSL’s OL Reign in September, providing competition for England’s Mary Earps alongside young Wales prospect Safia Middleton-Patel. Tullis-Joyce has impressed in Conti Cup victories over Liverpool and Everton, and with fresh speculation around Lionesses favourite Earps’ future at the club, talk of the 27-year-old’s readiness to soon step in as number one has increased.

Having gone unselected in the 2019 NWSL Draft back home, Tullis-Joyce played in the top two divisions in France with Reims before a belated opportunity in the NWSL came at OL Reign in 2021. Speaking in a press conference ahead of this Thursday’s Conti Cup group game with Leicester City, Skinner was asked by She Kicks about the recent work behind the scenes with the New Yorker, as well as the possible on-field adaptation process for a goalkeeper arriving from overseas.

“If you look at the key characteristics of the NWSL versus the WSL, ball possession’s favoured more in the WSL, so we’re a team that usually out-possesses most of the opponents that we play against,” he responded. “So, with the ball, she’s having to adapt to shorter passes, medium, and obviously some longer-range to make sure we mix up the opponent – but I think it’s about the speed in which she does that.”

“I’ve been to the NWSL (as Orlando Pride head coach) and there’s a lot of quality there, a lot of individual dribbling quality, a lot of high-speed energy, but what I think you have to realise in here is there’s different shapes, so you’re going to have to know when to pull a team out… It’s a little bit more tactically designed, I think is probably the best way to put it, so she’s learning that.

“I think what we’re doing is we’re just sharpening her tools. I’ll be very clear: she has all of the foundations.

“I’ve never seen a goalkeeper make the saves that she makes – honestly, I’ve never. She’s so athletic, but I think it’s just making sure she can make those in the big moments.

“She’s such an astute learner, she literally takes a notepad into everywhere she goes. So, you’re going to see a real character that, I think after this season, once she’s had these kind of games, I think you’re going to see a world-class goalkeeper, I really do.

“She’s got all of the qualities she needs.”


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