Gareth Taylor targeting consistency for Man City Women ahead of new Barclays FA Women's Super League season

Gareth Taylor was appointed as Man City Women's manager in May 2020; The Barclays FA Women's Super League will be shown live on Sky Sports from September 2021; Sky Sports will show at least 35 games exclusively live in a three-year deal

Gareth Taylor

Manchester City Women will head into the new Barclays FA Women's Super League season with the same confidence and determination as every season. This year though, they will be hoping to avoid a fifth successive runners-up spot in the league.

They have finished second behind Chelsea on three occasions and once behind Arsenal since winning their only Women's Super League title in 2016. The last two seasons have arguably been killer blows - the 2019/20 champions were decided on points per game due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with City top of the table before the suspension.

Last season, they were in the mix right up until the final game with two points separating themselves and Chelsea, with any slips likely to be punished. However, Chelsea swept aside Reading 5-0 to ultimately lift the WSL title.

The pair have been two of the league's biggest and most consistent teams for the last few years, and Gareth Taylor is hoping City can maintain the same high performance levels heading into the new season.

"It was always going to be that transition period [at the start of last season] and we probably gave away a couple of points that we didn't want to early on," the Man City Women manager exclusively told Sky Sports.

"But from late November onwards, I think we were arguably the most consistent side in the league. We played really good football and it takes times to gel, but what you saw in that latter part of the season was a team that as functioning in a really good way.

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Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor says the additions of Vicky Losada and Bunny Shaw will help them compete across different competitions this season

"Of course, there's been some recruitment that has taken place - some players have left, some players have come in - so we're effectively starting the process again with same nucleus of players from last season, so that helps.

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"But understanding that it's a real challenge and understanding that there are many teams that have recruited with transfer dealings at other clubs in the summer - I think it's exciting for the WSL.

"When you look at our season as a whole from last year, we want to improve. We were fairly consistent, apart from that early start. We won the first trophy that was available, we went to the quarter-finals in the two other trophies, we want to improve and go further in the Champions League for sure.

City

"We want to retain the FA Cup if we can and we took the league to the final game of the season and again, we want to go one better. This team has won trophies, but it's only won one WSL in the last six years and that's something that we really want to do.

"But we know it's tough, you only have a 12-team league so you can't have any inconsistency, so it's a really tough league in that respect. A dropped point here or there could be the difference between winning the title or not."

Taylor is relatively new on the women's football scene, but has a long history at Man City. He was appointed as a coach in the academy after retiring from playing in 2011 and held a range of roles being taking over from Nick Cushing as women's head coach in May 2020 - right in the middle of a global pandemic.

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He said: "I learnt so much in the academy. It was a great experience for any of the coaches that are in that system, working with various heads of coaching.

"My first head of coaching was Scott Sellars, who is doing a really good job with the development squad at Wolves. Rodolfo Borrell [now first team assistant coach], Jason Wilcox [Man City academy manager], there have been many influences which have really formed my model of play.

"We always looked at the development side in the young lads game in terms of trying to get them the necessary tools they needed to become professional. Now, it's stepping into first team football, which is what I was looking for, and there are many things I would have taken with me from the academy.

Manchester City forward Ellen White is full of praise for the work Gareth Taylor has done with the side
Image: Gareth Taylor has a long relationship with Man City, taking over the women's side last year

"I think a big reason for me taking the job was because I was really interested in it. We were co-habiting in the CFA so we work in the same premises. I was the U18 coach at the time, working alongside the women's team on the next pitch, so I've always taken an interest in it.

"We always interact as coaches, as the academy coaches and the women's technical coaches as well, and with the players because we were living together pretty much, eating together in the canteen.

"So it's an amazing environment for sharing ideas and when the opportunity came, it was something I really wanted to do.

"It was quite difficult with the pandemic last season. They were difficult circumstances, but I think we made the very best of it. You want to initiate those relationships in a normal setting. It was quite abnormal if anything, but we made the best of it.

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"I worked with Nick [Cushing] previously. I used to line manage him when he was a younger age coach so our friendship has gone back many years. He gave me a really good insight into what the role looks like, which was a really big help for me, and I knew the assistant coach, Allan Mahon, as well.

"I know working for any of the teams here at Manchester City, we're expected to be up there and challenging, we want to be at the forefront of things and we want to be winning trophies. I was fortunate enough to win my first trophy last November with the FA Cup and we're hungry for more."

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Of course, the men's side of Man City have a heaving trophy cabinet. Last season, they won the Premier League and Carabao Cup titles and reached the Champions League final.

But with the Man City teams all sharing facilities at the Etihad campus, it is not unusual to see Pep Guardiola or his team supporting the women's side.

"There is really good interaction," Taylor said. "Pep has been amazing. He's really supportive of myself, but also the women's team.

"He comes over regularly to our training sessions, he's sent me messages, he's been incredible in terms of support for us. It does feel like a family here.

"We train on the adjacent pitches so it's an amazing place to be and to draw on that knowledge and also support."

With exciting new talent among Taylor's ranks to only bolster City's exciting roster, they will be hoping to hit the ground running to win their first Women's Super League title since 2016.

Watch the Barclays FA Women's Super League live on Sky Sports

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Sky Sports has announced a three-year deal with the FA to become the primary broadcaster of the Barclays Women's Super League from September 2021.

In March, Sky Sports announced a three-year deal with the FA to become the primary broadcaster of the Barclays FA Women's Super League from September 2021, becoming one of Sky Sports' flagship offerings.

The deal will see Sky Sports show at least 35 games exclusively live per season and further strengthens the broadcaster's commitment to women's sport.

The WSL will get the full Sky Sports treatment with lengthy build-ups and reaction to all live matches, plus daily news from the competition across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports' digital platforms.

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