Manchester United Women midfielder Jackie Groenen is looking to take the positives from the club’s narrow defeat to Manchester City on the opening day of the new Women’s Super League season, insisting there is nothing to fear about playing at the highest level.
United are newly promoted to the top flight WSL after forming as a club just last summer, but it was only a wonder goal from City midfielder Caroline Weir that separated the sides in a record breaking first ever WSL Manchester derby.
Earlier in the game, City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck had pulled off a superb save to deny United forward Jane Ross, while Groenen herself struck the post late on after somehow managing to weave her way through a crowded City defence.
United also had other chances to score - more than City on the day - and were far from outclassed, despite playing away from home against a side that will challenge for the WSL title.
“We got a bit unlucky a couple of times,” Groenen told ManUtd.com.
“I think we did really well in the first half, we put them under pressure and we got four or five big chances to score a goal. That was the difference, they got one big chance and they scored it.
“We showed that we can compete at this level. I hit the post and in the first half we got a couple of good chances, so get more clinical and there’s nothing stopping us from beating them.”
Groenen agreed to join United back in May shortly after the club had stormed the second tier Women’s Championship, becoming the first overseas signing. Six months earlier, she had been voted the 33rd best player in the world by The Guardian and later starred for Netherlands at the summer’s Women’s World Cup – even scoring an extra-time semi-final winner against Sweden.
Despite defeat, Groenen’s class and quality shone through at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Next up for United is a first home game of the season as reigning WSL champions Arsenal, who narrowly beat West Ham in their opening fixture, visit Leigh Sports Village on Monday night.