There was a record crowd on hand at the Etihad Stadium as more than 31,000 fans showed for the Red Devils’ first fixture in the Women’s Super League
Manchester United defender Abbie McManus hopes football fans will now be convinced to go to women’s matches on a regular basis after a record crowd for the first professional Manchester derby.
A crowd of 31,213 at the Etihad Stadium for Saturday’s match, which included around 2,000 United supporters, was almost six times the previous Women’s Super League record while there were also huge crowds at Chelsea and Tottenham on Sunday.
Women’s football has gained interest following England’s run to the semi-finals of the World Cup in the summer and McManus hopes they will keep coming for the rest of the season.
“Yes, it’s back off the World Cup, but there’s probably a lot of Mancunians out there wanting to paint Manchester either blue or red,” she said. “Hopefully we can get them down to Leigh Sports Village as well.
“It’s exciting as a player to look at the crowd and see that many people there. To know there were 31,000 when we expected 20,000 – there must have been a lot of people that bought tickets on the door. The more people there the better for us.
“I hope that’s not just for the first game. I hope it will happen in the very last game.”
While it was an historic day for newly promoted United, the result wasn’t what they wanted with City winning 1-0 thanks a spectacular 25-yard strike from Caroline Weir.
United missed chances with City keeper Ellie Roebuck making a stunning, close-range save from Jane Ross in the first half while Jackie Groenen’s scrambled effort rebounded off the inside of the post.
City will be among the contenders for the title but McManus says they have shown in the opening fixture that they can compete with the best sides in England.
“We created three unbelievable chances and on another day we would have gone in 3-0 up at half-time,” she added.
“This is the second year since United formed a women’s team and look how far we’ve come.
“Man City have been formed for five years and they’ve just beaten us 1-0 and we’ve put up a good performance against them. Who knows if we can get further than they did in five years?”
McManus, 26, made the move across Manchester from City in the summer and explained that her decision was made to give her more opportunity for England as a centre-back.
“It was a personal reason for me,” she said. “I had an England career to think of and I only get selected at centre-half. I’m not a right-back.
“It was a decision that wasn’t easy to take. I know Man City are going to win trophies.
“Hopefully now we can challenge them and hopefully I can make Manchester United a better team.”