BIRMINGHAM City Ladies are preparing to resume Women’s Super League 1 action on Sunday when they welcome Manchester City Women to Solihull Moors’ Damson Park and in her latest column skipper Karen Carney says the table-topping Blues are raring to go as they get set to take on another much-fancied side.
“The girls have enjoyed the mid-season break after a hectic start to the season and are really excited about being back in action, especially at Solihull against a side as good as Manchester City.
“We were very pleased to take eight points from our opening four league games to put us top of the table, but we know that people – some of whom didn’t fancy us to do well this season before a ball was kicked – are now looking at us as being the team to beat, which is natural for any team of the table.
“It’s up to us to manage expectations now which I believe we can do, keep our heads and continue to work hard to get the results we need to keep us challenging in both the league and Continental Cup.
“We would dearly love to bring another trophy back to Birmingham, but it’s going to be tough in a league with so many good teams and we really musn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”
“We then host Oxford United on Wednesday in our latest Continental Cup game, which is the first of three successive home matches with Notts County (July 6) and Bristol Academy (July 13) to come.
“We have two wins from two in the competition so far and are taking it very seriously, as we would love to win this cup, but again we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
“Notts County and Bristol Academy are in Super League 1 with ourselves, but before that we’ll have to make sure we’re on our game against Oxford because, despite being in Super League 2, I’m sure they’ll come to our place, raise their game and get stuck into us. We must respect them and hopefully get the result we need to maintain our 100 per cent record.”
England Women on course
“I have recently returned from England Women’s duty and it was fantastic to win both of our 2015 World Cup qualifying matches in Belarus (3-0) and Ukraine (2-1), which means we need just one more point from our remaining two games to qualify.
“We have two tricky fixtures left (Wales away in August and Montenegro away in September), but we’re confident if we maintain our performance levels we can get the job done.
“We weren’t at our most fluent best, but it was good to see the team prove they could roll their sleeves up and grind out results in a difficult part of the world to get results, as the atmosphere can often be hostile.
“When Ukraine pulled a goal back it was the first one we had conceded in our qualification group, but we stood firm which was pleasing.”
Sympathy for Roy Hodgson’s men
“I have been really disappointed by the treatment of the England men’s team in the national media following their exit from the World Cup.
“I have had the pleasure of meeting many members of the team recently at St George’s Park and at a charity event in London and I can assure people that the players really do care.
“It saddens me to read accusations that some of them don’t have enough pride in the shirt and don’t care enough about the fact they are seen as role models. I got the chance to have a good chat with captain Steven Gerrard before the tournament and he was absolutely relishing the World Cup, he really couldn’t wait to get out there.
“I also know how much of their own time and money the players give up for charitable causes, so I really feel lots of what is said and written is unjustified.
“I don’t understand the national press in this country at times. They spend months bigging up World Cups and European Championships, etc, just to try and do the team harm when they come around it would appear.”