Houghton desperate to come out on top in first WSL Manchester derby
Manchester City captain Steph Houghton says it is important “we start history right” in Saturday’s derby clash with Manchester United.
City take on newly-promoted United at the Etihad Stadium on the opening day of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season in what will be the first-ever professional women’s Manchester derby, with an attendance set to be over 20,000.
Houghton said: “It’s exciting. I think everybody has been dying for a Manchester derby in the Women’s Super League.
“Obviously last year when Manchester United said they were going to be in the Championship and they were fighting for promotion, as players and staff we got excited by the prospect of having them in our league, and now to have it as our first game – I think it is going to do this game the world of good.
“I think we need to push rivalries, we need to push derby days and there is no bigger than this one coming on Saturday.
“Hopefully we can put on a performance to help fans come back to watch us even more.”
When asked if she felt it would take time for the derby rivalry to develop, Houghton said: “I feel as though it is already there to be honest.
“All the talk has been about a Man City-Man United women’s derby and we have finally got that.
“I think it’s important that we start history right on Saturday in terms of we want to make Manchester blue.
“We want to go and perform as well as we can but we have to have the right attitude and mentality and get off on the front foot straight away and use the home crowd to our advantage.”
Regarding United, who were only formed a year ago, Houghton said: “I think it’s quite similar to how we started out, if I look back at our first team in 2014.
“They have built a team from scratch, they did very well, they got themselves promoted at the first opportunity. When you move up to our league there’s such a difference in terms of quality and technical ability, (but) they’ve recruited the likes of (Holland international) Jackie Groenen, who’s a fantastic player, and they’ll be looking to strengthen their squad I’m sure over the next couple of seasons.
“But for us it’s all about what we can bring to the table, the quality we have in our team and I’m really confident in the group of players we have.”
The defender, who also skippers England, was speaking at a press conference on Thursday at the 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium, where City Women normally play home matches.
She was joined by club and international team-mate Georgia Stanway, who said: “It starts the season off with a bang. We are kind of setting the tone.
“The women’s team in the Eithad, we have sold so many tickets – it is going to be a massive day, with it being the derby as well – no days get much bigger than that.”
When asked about how often she felt, in terms of the growth of the game, City Women should play at the Etihad, midfielder Stanway said: “I think the fact we have sold 20,000 – this (the Academy Stadium) doesn’t even hold 20,000 fans, so I think that’s the best start we could possibly get.
“If we can get 20,000 fans at every game we will have to play at the Etihad but understandably that potentially isn’t possible because we aren’t getting the crowds in the WSL at the minute.
“If we can fill this week in week out then potentially the move to the Etihad is in our favour but we have to make sure we do that.
“Because, for example, we’d rather have 3,000 in here than 3,000 at the Etihad because you can hear them, you feel it more. Whereas in the Etihad, if you have 3,000 fans you might as well have no one in there.
“So for a start, playing at the Etihad is unbelievable, because we’re kicking off the season with 20,000 people in there, but carrying on the games, I think it’s important we make sure we fill the Academy Stadium.”