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03-Nov-2020, 12:53 am

'We're probably ahead of where I thought we'd be' - Man Utd boss Stoney impressed by club's progress ahead of Everton meeting

Casey Stoney Manchester United Women

Manchester United head coach Casey Stoney believes the club are "probably ahead"of where she thought they would be at this point in their journey.

United only relaunched their women's teamin May 2018, with Stoney, who won 130 caps for England before retiring, coming in shortly after as head coach.

The 38-year-old said she projected where the team could be as their journey went on and now, going into their third season and second since promotion to the Women's Super League, she believes they are doing better than she expected.

"When I first took the job, I had a very clear vision, a very clear timeline," Stoney said. "We set our long-term plan and strategy and so farwe're on track -probably ahead of where I thought we might be. But that's credit to the group that I've got in this club."

United return to action on Wednesday after a lengthy break, their last game was a win at West Ham on October 18,facing Everton in the Continental Cup. Theiropponents were in action over the weekend, pushing Manchester City all the way in Sunday's Women's FA Cup final before losing in extra time.

The game wasfurther evidence that the gap they and United are trying to bridge to the big three - City, Arsenal and Chelsea - is being closed, while adding to Stoney and her team's desire to reach their own cup finals.

"It gives you added motivation," she said. "We went out too early for me. We had a tough draw against Manchester City in the opening round but they are the sort of days and cup finals that we want to be involved in.

“When I got to win the FA Cup at Wembley with Arsenal it was one of the greatest days of my career. I never thought as a little girl I would play at Wembley and walk up those steps to lift that trophy. I was lucky enough to play in front of a crowd there too. It’s the showcase game of the women’s calendar.

"When I was doing some punditry there a couple of years ago, it was the only time I have ever missed playing because I was pitch side on FA Cup final day.

"Everton are a good team. They soaked up a lot of pressure. They covered a lot of ground," she added, analysing Wednesday's opponents.

"I was really impressed with Sandy MacIver in goal. I thought she had a really good performance - good with her hands, good with her feet, an accomplished young player who didn’t seem fazed by the occasion one bit. You’re going to have to play well to score against her, you’re going to have to take your chances and be clinical.

"I also know they’ve got players to come back in like Claire Emslie, who has been in fine form for them and would add to them, because it looked like they took a lot of heavy knocks yesterday to be honest.

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