Leah Galton interview: Man Utd forward discusses psychology of Women’s Super League title race

Leah Galton is a few minutes late to her media duties as she is getting a new tattoo – the number 100 behind her ear.

The Manchester United forward hit that number of appearances for the club last weekend at Old Trafford against West Ham. “I’ll never forget it,” she says. Yet there are bigger prizes on offer.

United are after the double as they enter the home stretch of the tightest Women’s Super League title race to date, with an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton to come later this month. They are eight victories away from winning both competitions.

Earlier in the day, United manager Marc Skinner told Sky Sports about the importance of not getting distracted by the context of the season. Galton, who agrees with her manager, admits this is challenging.

“You can get very unfocused very quickly if you spend too long looking at the table,” she says. “I get tagged in a lot of [comments] saying, ‘Oooh look, United are top of the table’, which is great and feels great.

“But you can’t spend too long looking at the table, it’s always changing and you have to go game by game. You have to keep your feet on the ground and work hard every day. The harder you work every day, the better chance you give your team at the weekend. That’s what I’m doing.”

There is a lot of psychology involved in any title race, let alone one involving four competitive teams. From the debate over whether there is an advantage to play first – which United do this weekend at Brighton live on Sky Sports on Saturday – to the temptation of watching your rivals’ games with angst.

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Look back at all Leah Galton’s goals and assists from the 2021-22 WSL season and from the current Women’s Super League season as she continues her impressive form for Manchester United

Asked about the latter, Galton replies: If we’re travelling away and we’re on the bus, we put the other games on so we can see how other teams are doing and how they’re playing, what they do and don’t do so well so we can use it in our games.

“But I don’t go out of my way to watch games. That’s where I like to have a little work-social life balance, making sure I’m not watching games every minute of the day otherwise my fiancé would absolutely kill me!”

The title-race psychology is also brought about internally. See Skinner’s half-time rant against West Ham where the United manager raged at his side being held to a goalless draw at the interval. Galton admits similar scenes are seen on the training ground.

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Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner explained the home truths he told to his team at half-time of their WSL win over West Ham

Perhaps that is the edge United need. After all, despite sitting at the top of the Women’s Super League table going into this weekend, they are the least-experienced squad out of the four teams in terms of pedigree.

Chelsea and Arsenal are serial winners and have been this century, while Manchester City are also recent league champions. United, meanwhile, were playing in the division below the WSL as recently as four years ago.

So what gives this United side an edge, according to Galton?

“For me it’s how tight we are as a team,” she says. “I’ve never been in a squad so tight and happy to be around each other and we all get along with each other.

Leah Galton celebrates her goal
Galton (middle) is Man Utd’s second highest-goalscorer this season with seven

“Obviously we have our little arguments in training and our little shouting matches – but they’re all because of football and how much we love it and how passionate we are about it. There’s none of that off the pitch – and that’s huge.

“It keeps us so together and we want to perform for each other and help each other on matchday. We know we have each other’s backs.”

So onto this Saturday and the next round of psychological battle commences. United go first on Saturday. Arsenal and City face each other on Sunday lunchtime. Chelsea, who were in Champions League action on Thursday night, take on in-form Aston Villa to round off a stellar weekend.

Saturday 1st April 11:00am

Kick off 11:30am

“What we have to do at United – and it’s what we’re saying a lot now – is to go game by game and making sure that we’re winning every game as we go and not thinking too far in advance. Or that we’re thinking: ‘We need to make sure we beat Arsenal when we play them’.

“Because you never know who wins these games in our league. We’re going away to Brighton this weekend and that’s going to be a hard game on their pitch against a good, organised team. It’s not going to be an easy game at all.”

Watch Brighton vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League this Saturday from 11am, kick-off 11.30am

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