first_imgShare via Email Quick guide Crowd record chasers Pinterest Share on Pinterest Manchester City Women “It is going to be a massive start isn’t it?” grins Jackie Groenen. It would be fair to say that Manchester United’s charismatic showpiece signing of the summer and Dutch World Cup finalist is ready for the first Manchester derby of the Women’s Super League era in front of an expected 20,000-plus crowd.“It is a good thing to see that women’s football is getting that big it is played at men’s stadiums,” Groenen says. “We have experienced playing in big stadiums with Holland for a while now and every time I am in the stadium … it is the nice thing about being a women’s footballer at this time because you kind of know where you came from. I remember playing in front of 10 people and now when I go to Holland we play in front of 40,000 and it is nice to still realise that that is not a normal thing. I like the fact we are in that generation where you can know about both.” “For my style of play it has been massive. When I talk to young girls or when people ask me for advice the first thing I always say is to take judo lessons with it [football]. Ajax in Holland do it with the youth players as well because it is not only about strength, it is about using your body in the right way. You are using your body and timing in the right way so I feel like I can really tell when I have to step in or when I can put people off balance without really using force.”She also thought it would give her the edge when the team donned sumo suits as part of pre-season bonding. “Before we started I was bragging. I was like: ‘Guys, I’ve got this, I am going to win this’ and it was first round and I was out,” she says with a laugh. “I was on the ground and couldn’t get up.”Now, derby bragging rights are on the table and Beckie says it is time for the public to show their support. “If you look at the numbers from the World Cup, I would say there’s not many excuses for not showing up, right?“If you’re interested, you’re interested. I think there’s 10 girls on our team who will be involved in the England camp, there’s other internationals to see and ticket prices are not outrageous. When people say: ‘This is why I don’t come’ I think you can start knocking those excuses off the table.”How badly do United want to knock City off their perch? “A lot,” says Groenen with a grin. “It is all we have been talking about for three weeks: ‘Let’s smash City, get that out of the way.’ It is not going to be the easiest game to start with. It is a big team and they have been doing well for years and in the Champions League as well. It is a massive game for us.” Manchester United Women Thank you for your feedback. Share on LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Hide Share on Messenger Women’s Super League The Canadian forward Janine Beckie will be stepping out for the blue side of Manchester on Saturday at the Etihad. “Strangely enough, my brother is a huge United fan,” she says. When I signed with City he called me a traitor!“[Playing at the Etihad] is a great move for the club and a testament to the importance we have to the club. It’s a big stadium so hopefully we have a good atmosphere. It’s a history making game, to restart that rivalry on the women’s side.”The new Manchester United are in their second season, the club’s previous women’s side having been wound up in 2005, and Groenen thinks their re-emergence is important for the women’s game. “It is a bit about the name as well,” she says. “You can get games like Manchester United v Manchester City and that will attract people, so it is really good for women’s football that these sort of games are happening right now.” High-profile games and signings give new WSL season a perfect platform Share on WhatsApp WSL crowd record chasersSaturday’s Manchester derby is one of three opening fixtures that have been moved to bigger stadiums – and it means the Women’s Super League’s attendance records will be falling. The biggest crowd to have watched a WSL match is 5,265 for Arsenal’s title-clinching win at Brighton in April, but City take on United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with more than 20,000 tickets already sold. And on Sunday Chelsea host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge with an even bigger crowd expected at the 41,000-capacity venue. Bristol City’s match against Brighton on Saturday has also been moved to Ashton Gate. League organisers say fixtures could also take place on the same day as Premier League matches later this season.“We know that there is a massive potential audience of fans coming across from the men’s game and the men’s clubs across to their women’s team, we are seeing very much a one-club ethos,” says Kelly Simmons, the Football Association’s director of the women’s professional game. Was this helpful? She won’t say the league in England is better but believes it develops players in a different way. “When you look at NWSL [National Women’s Soccer League], it’s a league full of high-calibre athletes and that’s what makes them so dangerous. There’s not many teams who can compete with that for 90 minutes – their power.“But I think the league over there could use more players like Keira Walsh or Tyler Toland, our young Irish player who I have been really impressed with since she came in. Keira can just play passes not a lot of players can play and she brings composure to the game; they’re the kind of players the NWSL need to see more of. I think both sets of players could learn from playing in the opposite league.”Groenen was the Netherlands’ judo champion for the under-15 age group from 2007 to 2009 before injury forced her out of the sport. She says judo has made her a better player. Women’s Super League 2019-20: 10 things to look out for this season Read more Jackie Groenen faced Janine Beckie during the Netherlands’ victory against Canada at the World Cup in France this year. Photograph: VI-Images/VI-Images via Getty Images features Groenen returns to the league after four years with FFC Frankfurt, for whom she signed after one year with Chelsea. She joined Chelsea as a teenager and now, aged 24 and with a European Championship winner’s medal, she is back hungry for success.“You can imagine that in a club like Manchester United everything is massive and blown up and everything is a big deal,” she says. “You walk in and you feel it is about winning and I have always had that in me as well … with the Dutch team we have been winning some things as well; you kind of get addicted to it.”Groenen thinks England is the place to be, describing the WSL as “the fastest-growing league” in a country which “revolves around football”, and Beckie agrees. The 25-year-old spent her career in the US before joining City in 2018. Show Read more Share on Facebook Topics Share on Twitter Women’s football Reuse this contentlast_img

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