Marc Skinner hails ‘Red Devil’ Lucia Garcia for game-changing impact at Old Trafford
Manchester United manager Marc Skinner described Lucia Garcia as the ‘Red Devil energy’ that his team needed to see off West Ham in the WSL on Saturday evening.
United were far from their best in the first half at Old Trafford, failing to consistently stretch or test West Ham and not taking the only couple of real chances they managed to create.
But after a break early in the second half when Alessia Russo was brought down by Hawa Cissoko, who had impressively shut everything down in the first half for the Hammers, Skinner sought to keep things fresh from the bench and put Garcia on at 1-0 with 35 minutes to play.
Exactly 10 minutes later, the Spanish winger had doubled United’s lead with an excellent piece of control and finish after being played in by Ella Toone, putting a result that had looked far from guaranteed earlier on to bed.
From there, United were in cruise control and Hayley Ladd made it 3-0, before Garcia got the fourth.
Skinner spoke afterwards about United lacking what he called ‘Red Devil Energy’ in the first half of the game. But Garcia, he says, really embodies that quality.
“She’s taken a little bit of time to adapt to the league, but when I talk about the ‘Red Devil’ energy, it’s her – the way she moves, presses, invades the space behind the shoulder. The touch and goal is beautiful,” the United boss explained.
A less than stellar performance against Lewes in the FA Cup last time out had been the subject of a midweek meeting between manager and player. But whatever was said in that ‘honest conversation’ did the trick because Garcia made all the difference on Saturday.
“The reason we signed Lucia is because I think she can do that for 90 minutes,” Skinner said. “She was excellent and needs to keep that up now. I’ve got the second half footage to show her that this is the Lucia Garcia that Manchester United need.”
The result against West Ham sent United back to the top of the WSL, at least temporarily until Chelsea visit Manchester City on Sunday. It also gets the club one game closer to reaching the promised land of next season’s Champions League.
There are six WSL games of the season to play, including home games against Arsenal and Manchester City in that run which are likely to be decisive in the top three race – United have taken four points from away games against those rivals in recent months.
“We just need to perform. We have a great opportunity,” Skinner said, refuting the idea that the remaining games could be thought of ‘cup finals’ as it makes things more complicated.
“We’re going to play six league games and focus on trying to win all of those as best we can. We know how difficult that is going to be, we don’t expect anything. When you don’t live with expectation, you just play football – and we will just play football.
“I will be focused on every game, the one that has just gone and the one that is coming up. We don’t deserve results if we don’t perform.
“I know you can win ugly and that’s a great thing to be winning team, but we’ve got to strive for a performance – that’s something [against West Ham], first half, we didn’t do, second half, we did do.”
For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter!