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Assessing the January signings of Manchester United Women’s Team

Manchester United Women’s Team currently find themselves in their best period of form in the season so far and things seem to be moving in the right direction under manager Marc Skinner’s tenure.

While the season started with lots of ups and downs, sometimes throwing away leads or struggling to break down opponents, now United have reached to third in the Women’s Super League, closer to their goal of qualifying to the Champions League for the first time in their history and displaying great football that has been reflected in 18 goals scored and zero received in the last six games.

But not everything has been rosy for the Women’s Team. While their form at the moment is phenomenal, the reality is that some areas of the squad lacked depth and recently centre-back Millie Turner had to stepped down due to issues with an artery of her neck, so she is going to be out for an indefinite amount of time–this left United with just two centre-backs, Maria Thorisdottir and Aoife Mannion, which highlights the squad depth issues that the Red Devils are currently suffering.

There was a lot of demand on social media for the club to sign reinforcements and the vast majority of the January transfer window was filled with uncertainty, to the point that manager Marc Skinner was repeatedly asked about it in press conferences and admitted the desire for signings but was obviously coy about it, keeping cards close to his chest.

And then the last day of the window arrived and United announced a hat-trick of signings in centre-back Diane Caldwell, midfielder Jade Moore and forward Signe Bruun. But who are these players and what do they offer to the team?

Diane Caldwell

As I have mentioned before, the second Millie Turner went down due to her neck problems, all alarms went off at United and for obvious reasons: being down to two centre-backs means that any injury or suspension would lead to the team having to make forced adjustments, not to mention the fact that Thorisdottir and Mannion would struggle to keep up with so many games in such short notice.

When you factor in those circumstances and that context, the signing of Diane Caldwell for a six-month deal might be the most important transfer the team did this month. Just the fact of having a third centre-back can be great news for the squad for the final months of the competition.

In terms of whom Caldwell is, she is a 33-year-old Irish footballer with a plethora of experience, having played in the United States, Norway, Iceland and Germany and having over eighty caps with the Republic of Ireland. A lifelong United supporter by her own admission, Caldwell is also capable of not only playing as a centre-back, but also as a right-back and a midfielder, so she can field in on those positions if necessary.

Of course, at 33 year old there are valid questions about her suitability to play at a competition like the Women’s Super League, but I think it is fairly obvious that she comes to play a role of squad player and add a bit of experience to an otherwise young group of footballers. She also has decent ball-playing skills, often delivering long passes to her teammates when she played in midfield, which is something that Skinner is probably going to enjoy.

A rotation signing for the short term. I don’t think people should have massive expectations with Caldwell–she comes to help with rotation and if she can perform well under those circumstances, I’m sure she is going to be remembered fondly by United supporters.

Jade Moore

There were a lot of reports in the summer that, due to the late arrival of Marc Skinner as the new United manager for this season, the signings that the club made were developed and spearheaded by the previous manager, Casey Stoney. Well, the signing of midfielder Jade Moore from Orlando Pride is definitely a Skinner signing, having coached the 31 year old England international in both Orlando and Birmingham City.

When Moore was announced by United, Skinner was very flattering of her abilities to read the game and control the tempo, which are definitely her strong suits, plus a decent long range shot. And a 31 years old, fifty England caps and long stints in several teams of the Women’s Super League (plus a loan with Atletico Madrid), she, much like Caldwell, comes with a lot of experience and know-how.

She comes with some fitness issues and she is probably not going to be available for the next couple of games, so it is telling that perhaps Skinner is eyeing for next season with this particular signing and views Moore as his eyes and brain on the pitch. And with rumours regarding Jackie Groenen’s future at the end of the season, there is a very strong argument that Moore is set to replace the Dutch international next year.

Definitely an interesting signing that adds another layer of quality to an area that had the likes of Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem, Lucy Staniforth, Vilde Bøe Risa and the aforementioned Jackie Groenen.

Signe Bruun

Out of all the signings United did this month, Signe Bruun is certainly the most exciting one.

It was clear that the club was looking for a forward because of their efforts to land Swedish striker Stina Blackstenius, but she decided to sign for Arsenal, although Bruun’s name only showed up in the last day of the transfer window and it was definitely the transfer that got the most praise out of the three.

Bruun is not only the youngest of the three signings (23 years old), but also the one with the most pedigree. She comes in a six-month loan deal from Olympique Lyon, one of the most powerful teams in women’s football, but she also played in Paris Saint Germain, another big club in the game and where she won the Division 1 Féminine last season. Add to that her experience in the Champions League and you have a young footballer who already knows what’s to play in the top of the game, which is going to come in handy in the dressing room for the next couple of months.

But beyond that, Bruun is simply a gifted goalscorer and her mix of movement off-the-ball, good first touch and pace will play a big role in an already dynamic United attack, so the thought of her linking-up with the likes of Ella Toone and Alessia Russo is certainly a very exciting prospect. Not for nothing she was 2021’s Danish Football Player of the Year, ending Chelsea player Pernille Harder’s six-year supremacy.

Conclusion

Overall, a solid transfer window for United where they filled in some gaps and added a bit of talent up front to an already very functional attack. The task now for manager Marc Skinner and the players is to get these players, especially Caldwell and Bruun, hitting the ground running because due to their age and/or contract deal they are needed to perform now and this could prove to be the difference between a successful season for United or one of tremendous frustration.

The next few months promise to be quite intense for United Women’s Team and hopefully these signings can have the necessary impact to take the squad to the next level and keep up the great form of recent months.

More Stories Alessia Russo Aoife Mannion Diane Caldwell Ella Toone Jade Moore Manchester United marc skinner Maria Thorisdottir Signe Bruun