Manchester United players held their own half time team talk before fighting back against Chelsea in their Women’s Super League draw on Sunday.
United, without a competitive game in six months, were 1-0 down at half time against the defending champions thanks to Sam Kerr’s goal. It had been a reasonable performance from United, but Kerr had squandered two other golden opportunities to put the game beyond them before the break.
After half time, though, United were much improved and far more clinical, eventually earning a deserved equaliser through Leah Galton with ten minutes remaining.
And Galton revealed after the game that the players held their own half time team talk before manager Casey Stoney had the chance to speak to them, with a collective belief that they were capable of getting back into the game.
“We’re very happy, but also happy but a bit gutted we could have gone on to win in the second half,” Galton explained.
“It was a game of two halves, we were definitely the better team in second half. We were only 1-0 down [at half time] and very much in the game. We didn’t play great but finished hitting the crossbar, so we came out and did what we needed to do.
“We weren’t getting the through ball in the first half which was frustrating but I knew with patience in the second half we’d get on it. We knew at half time, we had a conversation before the coaches came in that it’s not good enough and we needed to get hold of the game. I think we executed it.
“It supports our confidence as a team. We knew we wanted to be top three, this showed we can be.”
Manager Stoney echoed Galton’s assessment of the game, saying the side were fully deserving of their point against a top side.
She said: All the credit goes to the players. In terms of effort, work rate, we needed that 45 minutes to get rid of anxiety, fear, just the fact we’ve not played a competitive game in a while. Second half they were excellent. We had people that came off the bench and changed the game,
“I said it would take every ounce of what we had. They’re quality, look at the players they brought off the bench and the depth they’ve got. We had to stand up to them, of course they had chances but we stayed in the game, Mary [Earps] made big saves. I’m really happy with the performance overall.
On the first half, Stoney added: “It was frustrating because I know what they’re capable of and I want to take shackles off. I said we have to have belief we can go out there and compete and go toe to toe. They needed the 45, we haven’t played football for so long. It’s a big occasion some of these players won’t have played against world class players.
“[I said] I believe in you, you’re here because I bought you here. It took us 45 minutes to get that anxiety out and be braver with the ball, address a couple of things at half time and they executed it brilliantly.
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“I’m not taking credit for that, we give them pointers, just say to them ‘come on, it’s 1-0, you’re in the game. They’re more than beatable, you can take the game to them.’
“It doesn’t matter that I say they have to believe. They stepped up a gear and believed a little bit more.”
Stoney also confirmed that striker Jess Sigsworth will be out for two or three weeks with a back injury, while Martha Harris is facing a longer spell on the sidelines following a nasty foot injury in training.
And with just five substitutes named on Sunday, Stoney also hinted at more transfer activity to come, simply saying: “the window is still open.”