City do the Double
Manchester City Women have now firmly established their dominance in women’s football, securing both the FAWSL title and the Continental Cup in the past two weeks.
City had never previously won the FAWSL, and have only come into contention in the past three years following increased backing and funding from Manchester City. Indeed, City were playing at a regional level only 5 years ago. The improved funding allowed for a new stadium, better training facilities and professional contracts, setting City apart from the majority of other teams in the women’s game and luring in top players such as Steph Houghton, Toni Duggan and Lucy Bronze. This has now seemed to have paid off, with the 2016 FAWSL being an extremely successful season for City.
The title decider was played against Chelsea in front of a record 4,096 spectators. City comfortably won the game 2-0, with goals from Jill Scott and Toni Duggan. This assured performance against a talented Chelsea side again shows how far City have come. They still have a game left to play in the league, and a victory will see them have an unbeaten season.
The following week City had the Continental Cup final to play against Birmingham. They were once again playing in front of a large home crowd, but struggled to convert chances as a spirited Birmingham side took them to extra time with the score at 0-0. However Lucy Bronze scored the winning goal right at the end of the first period of extra time, heading the ball into an empty goal after Birmingham’s keeper was left stranded coming out for a corner. City had secured the double.
City will now focus on the Champions League, a competition which English teams have often struggled in, bar Arsenal. It will be intriguing to see if the backing that City have received that has helped them to victory this season will also pay dividends in Europe.
The improved standard of the football in this season’s FAWSL is good news for fans of women’s football, and many will hope that other teams will soon start to receive the backing and funding which they need to step up their game. However, this will soon actually become a necessity, as if only a few teams are receiving more funding, a gulf in quality will start to appear in the FAWSL.
We will have to wait till next season in 2017 to see if Manchester City can continue their domination.
Photo Credit: Manchester City Women