Manchester United star Ella Toone targets Champions League spot, delights in Arsenal strike, and reveals England ambitions December 14, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Ella Toone has warned WSL teams not to underestimate Manchester United this season as the Red Devils bid to earn a Champions League place.
The Red Devils have enjoyed an unbeaten start under boss Casey Stoney and currently sit top of the table after picking up seven wins from their opening nine matches.
They have shown they can go toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best this campaign and laid down a real marker by beating Arsenal at the start of November, in which Toone scored the only goal of the game at the death.
But there is also another side to their game as well, as shown during the Manchester derby with Man City recently, with United fighting back from 2-0 down at half-time to earn a point thanks to second half goals from Tobin Heath and Kirsty Hanson.
With Everton also starting relatively brightly, too, as well as Chelsea, Arsenal and City, all the signs point towards this season being one of the closest in the WSL in years, something which Toone agrees with as well.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, she said: “I think a lot of people have underestimated us quite a bit as a club and looking back, last season we dropped points to top teams just by a narrow defeat and it’s been massive this season to take points off of big teams.
“To score the winner against Arsenal was special for me. Hopefully, we can keep improving as a team and keep putting points on the table.
“I think we all believe we can challenge this year. We’ve got a lot of belief in the squad and that’s down to Casey [Stoney]. She puts her belief in us and we go out on the pitch and perform.
“This season has been really exciting already. Any club can take points anywhere. For us, it’s about mindset now and making sure we take every game as it comes and we keep trying to get points and keep improving as a team.
“Our overall goal is to win every game that we can now and hopefully, be up there with the top three and maybe even push for the Champions League.”
Toone, though, has been one of United’s stars this campaign with four goals to her name already and the winger’s form hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the 21-year-old receiving her maiden England call-up in September.
She has already started more games than she did throughout the whole of last season and United boss Stoney went out of her way to praise Toone’s work ethic in training recently.
Toone credits Stoney for her development but also feels the first national lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak – which brought last season’s WSL to a premature end – gave her that added motivation to come back even stronger this campaign.
Asked about Stoney’s influence on her career to date, Toone said: “[She’s been] massive. She believed in me to put me on against top opponents.
“Casey just wants everyone to improve and she really looks after us and cares about each player. She’s been wonderful in helping me improve as a person and a player.
“I think lockdown really helped, to be honest. I really took the time to work on a lot of things I needed to work on and I think I’ve come back a lot stronger and physically, in a better state than I was last season to compete with top teams and top players.
“In training, I try to stay out on the grass as long as I can until someone tells me to get off, which is annoying. I just want to keep improving and if that’s doing extra bits after training, I’ll try and do that so I can keep playing and keep improving and keep making an impact on the pitch for the team.”
The 21-year-old was called up for the second time by Phil Neville for England’s November training camp but is still waiting patiently for her debut, with the Lionesses not due to play again until 2021.
Toone, though, can’t wait to pull on the England jersey for the first time and says it would be a career highlight if that moment arrives in the near future.
“It would be the proudest moment of my career,” she finished.
“When you’re young, that’s every girl’s dream to play for England and to be a senior Lioness. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and I hope in 2021, I’ll be able to make my senior debut.
“Phil’s very down to earth and he knows that I’m still young and still have a lot of work and improving to do. He just wants me to look up to the players I’m getting called up alongside, like the likes of Fran Kirby, who has done a lot in her career. I’ve just got to keep taking in information off of players like that and keep improving.
“For now, it’s about making sure my performances for my club are consistent and I’m just working hard and hopefully, there will be more call-ups to come.”
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