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Taylor calls for patience after summer of change at Manchester City Women

Gareth Taylor says he understands the concern of Manchester City fans after a summer of change and has urged them to be patient as his new players get to grips with the league and setup.

“Yeah, I can understand it,” the manager says. “I would ask them to be patient because we’ve really invested in the future with these [new] players. There’s going to naturally be a fair-sized turnover at some point when you look at the nature of the group that left. They had given us really good service and three of the players had retired. With that, we had to be on the front foot with our recruitment and we were.”

Before a 3-2 extra-time defeat by Chelsea in May’s FA Cup final, City had won 13 games in a row in all competitions and lifted the Continental League Cup. That run lifted the pressure on Taylor, who had insisted there was “nothing for me to consider” when asked whether his position was in question after a humiliating 4-0 home defeat by Chelsea last November. That defeat was followed up by a 2-1 cup loss to Manchester United and meant they suffered six defeats and two draws in their first 12 games of the season – which included the team’s exit from Champions League qualifying.

In defence of Taylor and his team, the squad was weakened by injuries, with Ellie Roebuck, Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton, Chloe Kelly, Lucy Bronze and Esme Morgan among those who had spells out.

If the pressure was lifted by the season’s close, then it is back on before the new campaign, which starts for City at Aston Villa on Sunday. City have lost a significant number of players in the transfer window, including three Euros winners in Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh, who have joined Barcelona, and Georgia Stanway, who has moved to Bayern Munich. Other departures include the Olympic gold medallist Janine Beckie to Portland Thorns, Caroline Weir to Real Madrid and Jill Scott, Ellen White and Karen Bardsley, who have retired.

“The ones that have probably just put us a little bit on the back foot were Ellen and Keira,” says Taylor. “It’s worth looking at why these players are being picked up. They are in a good place, have been developed really well. Keira had given us eight years of service, had developed really well and wanted to take this challenge. We got a record fee for her, which shows we’re doing something right here at the club as much as we were disappointed to lose a player like that.”

To address the situation City have signed the Venezuela forward Deyna Castellanos and Laia Aleixandri from Atlético Madrid, Leila Ouahabi from Barcelona, the Australia youngster Mary Fowler from Montpellier, the goalkeeper Sandy MacIver from Everton, Kerstin Casparij from FC Twente and Yui Hasegawa from West Ham.

“I think we’re in a good place,” Taylor says. “We have lost experience and brought in players we think are very good for the future. We’ve probably lowered the average age quite a bit. You don’t want to lose all the experience. There was varying circumstances with each of the players [that left]. The Ellen White retirement and Keira Walsh moving late was a bit of a jolt. Up until that point we were probably in a pretty good place.

“Then it left us with about a week or so when we realised Keira wanted to leave and had requested to go. We had to try and look at another position on the pitch to strengthen and we managed to do that with Yui Hasegawa, which we are really happy about. There are a lot of changes but we’re pretty happy and content with where we’re at.”

In a message to supporters, he says: “We’re really trying to be the best version of ourselves and these new players I really believe are top players we’re bringing in to complement the high calibre of players we already have. I’m really excited about the future.

“You need to give them time. The difficult thing in the WSL is you don’t have time in a 22-game season but I’m excited about this team regardless of what happens in the first few games. Whether we hit the ground running or whether we suffer a little bit, we want to change the view on what we think this team is capable of.”