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Stoney praises 'fantastic' Groenen as Man Utd seek revenge in Manchester derby

  /  autty

The midfielder returned from injury to be one of her side's best players against Tottenham and Stoney is hoping for more of the same against City

Manchester United boss Casey Stoney has insisted she will not approach this weekend’s clash with Manchester City any differently, despite losing to the club’s local rivals last month.

United dominated the first half when these two opened up the FA Women’s Super League season at the Etihad Stadium in September, but somehow left empty-handed.

A difficult second half saw City get on top, with Caroline Weir’s long range strike a goal worthy of winning the game in the end.

Stoney admits that her team have looked back on that defeat in the build-up to Sunday’s Manchester derby, this one being played in the Continental Cup, but says they will not be changing their approach and has simply urged her team to be more clinical.

“We dominated the game in the first half. No one in a million years would have thought that we’d have done that,” she said.

“I think we surprised ourselves a little bit in terms of the level of performance that we put in, we definitely surprised them, but it gave us a lot of confidence.

“We’ve created chances against them when other teams haven’t.

“You’ve got to take them though and we have been wasteful in front of goal. We were wasteful on Sunday [in a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur] but it’s something we’re really concentrating on to make sure we’re really clinical in that final third.”

United were boosted by the return of Jackie Groenen for Sunday’s result, the Dutch midfielder having been out injured since playing the full 90 minutes at the Etihad.

A World Cup finalist in the summer with her country, and a European champion two years earlier, Stoney is delighted with the impact the summer signing has had on her team so far.

“With the power that we’ve got in the wings, having Jackie on the pitch with the ability to play forward it makes a difference to us – and her energy, the way she gets around the presses and stops the opposition playing,” Stoney said.

“She’s non-stop talking. She is fantastic.

“She went and played with the academy last week and the coach fed back to me the night she went to the game.

“She said she was amazing with the young players – and she’s no different here. She’s incredible around the players.

“There’s a reason we were talking to her so early last year and I identified that she was a player that was key to moving us through.”

Groenen was one of the best players on the pitch against Tottenham. It was her blocked shot that led to Kirsty Hanson opening the scoring, and the 24-year-old could have had a goal herself in the second half, but for a clearance off the line.

However, it was forward Lauren James who claimed the Player of the Match award – announced just as she was picking up her second yellow card in stoppage time.

She will miss Sunday’s game as a result, but Stoney has not given the teenager any telling off and is looking forward to seeing who rises to the challenge of replacing her.

“She’s actually gone for the ball and she’s got it wrong,” Stoney said.

“I’ll criticise her if she doesn’t tackle and she doesn’t work back, so I’m not going to criticise her for working back and then making a mistake because she will learn from it.

“She was devastated, she hasn’t come off the pitch and enjoyed her man of the match [award]. She’s absolutely devastated because she feels like she let the team down because she’s not available on Sunday.

“But if she’s not available, it gives somebody else an opportunity and it gives us the opportunity to put some real good work into her and get her ready for the Reading game next week.”

Related: Manchester United