The talking is done, the dealing is done, and the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) will kick off on March 23 in what is another hotly anticipated season — perhaps the most anticipated yet. Much discussion has been had during preseason about which team has had the best transfer window; the truth is there is no one correct answer, most teams in their own way have done good business with some still to reveal their full hands (watch this space).
Manchester City didn’t strengthen its team as much as some may have expected and the small squad Nick Cushing has left himself with, despite the quality, is already under the strain of long-term injuries to some key players. Like everyone, City missed out on one or two targets in the winter, including an England international, so it will be interesting to see how they go on.
They weren’t the only ones mind; another four or five members of England’s World Cup squad could have moved, but that’s the nature of the beast — there is always interest in the top stars. Some teams may still reveal deals that were done late: One WSL 1 manager informed me on Friday evening they had done a deal that wouldn’t be announced until later this week.
Meanwhile, Arsenal and Chelsea both look strong while Liverpool, Sunderland, Notts County, and even Doncaster could expect to be in the chasing pack. Reading has gone about their business quietly while Birmingham has only added Corina “Coco” Shroder to their squad – losing Karen Carney, Becky Spencer, and Chelsea Weston.
The surprise of the window came just minutes before Big Ben struck 5 p.m. as Arsenal legend Rachel Yankey joined Notts County on loan until the summer. Though the 36-year-old won’t have the pace Natasha Flint would have brought to the team, she’ll be a superb acquisition and one Notts did well to keep under wraps. Their own players were left scrambling around on social media after training on Friday as they were completely unaware the deal was being done right under their noses!
Many deals never materialized at all — that’s always expected — although one or two that fell by the wayside are a shame for supporters of certain clubs given said players would have improved them greatly. One player might as well have been wearing her new club’s shirt before the deal was pulled at the eleventh hour. But, the squads are indeed finalized and the action is about to begin on Wednesday night with champions Chelsea entering the fray on Thursday against the Belles.
Personally, it will be a busy week as by the next time I write a column, I’ll have attended four games in the opening week. Two trips to Doncaster to see them taking on champions Chelsea in both the league and the FA Cup, as well as Manchester City’s home double-header against Notts County and Arsenal. The anticipation surrounding the start of the FA WSL has never been larger…