Man City job is no Cush-y num­ber for new­bie Nick

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

IT WAS ‘Nick Who?’ when Manch­ester City launched their new-look women’s team early last year with a bevy of star-name play­ers, but a man­ager who was barely known out­side the Academy sys­tem of the Eti­had Sta­dium club.

Twenty months on, how­ever, af­ter a Con­ti­nen­tal Cup tri­umph in his team’s inau­gu­ral sea­son and a 2016-17 Cham­pi­ons League place in prospect as they chase a top two fin­ish in the Women’s Su­per League, Nick Cush­ing is mak­ing a name for him­self as well as help­ing build City into a ma­jor force.

Look­ing ahead to to­day’s Con­ti­nen­tal Cup quar­ter-fi­nal against Ar­se­nal – the team that City beat in last year’s fi­nal – Cush­ing took time out to re­flect on his jour­ney from play­ing Non-League football, via Academy coach­ing, to man­ag­ing City in what is his first ever job in the women’s game.

“I played for (West Cheshire League clubs) Vaux­hall Mo­tors and Capen­hurst Villa as a teenager,” said Ch­ester-born Cush­ing, now 30.“But then ten years ago I started as a vol­un­teer coach here at City and I fell in love with the club and threw my­self into coach­ing.


“I used to drive up the M56 from home on Sun­day morn­ings and coach the Un­der-5s and Un­der-6s in the boys’ Academy. I did that for eight months then be­came part­time, tak­ing ses­sions in the week as well as week­ends, then be­came full­time – I must have had thou­sands of hours on the train­ing pitch by now.

“I re­ally en­joyed the de­vel­op­ment side of the game, but I al­ways ex­pressed a de­sire to be­come a man­ager and while I was coach­ing I was also do­ing cour­ses in man­age­ment and lead­er­ship, busi­ness and ac­count­ing as well as in coach­ing.

“So when I was asked by the club if I would like to man­age the women’s team, it was a no-brainer. Okay I hadn’t worked in the women’s game be­fore, but I didn’t make any dis­con­nect be­tween men’s football and women’s – it’s football.”

Un­der Cush­ing’s di­rec­tion, City have quickly es­tab­lished them­selves as one of the very best club teams in Eng­land.

Hav­ing many of the coun­try’s top play­ers in the squad – seven of whom have been called up for next week’s Euro 2017 qual­i­fier against Es­to­nia – has been a big fac­tor and the man­ager would not deny that.

But Cush­ing’s role has been key, in­sist the play­ers. City and Eng­land cap­tain Steph Houghton said:“Nick is one of the very best coaches I’ve ever worked with.

“In the last year and a half my game’s come on leaps and bounds and that’s down to him. His tech­ni­cal de­tail and tac­ti­cal knowl­edge are first class, you can see that in the style of play we al­ways aim to pro­duce and in the re­sults that we’ve been get­ting.”

Houghton was meant to step out against Ar­se­nal to­day, the club from whom Cush­ing signed her as one of his first and most im­por­tant cap­tures, with the avowed in­tent of tak­ing a gi­ant stride to­wards a sec­ond suc­ces­sive Con­ti­nen­tal Cup fi­nal.

Hav­ing gone un­beaten in their last 13 League and Cup out­ings,11 of them won fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s 2-0 vic­tory against Liver­pool, City would have headed down to Bore­ham Wood feel­ing con­fi­dent of pro­gress­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion.

But their de­fence of the tro­phy could be cut short af­ter they were charged by the FA for field­ing an in­el­i­gi­ble player in the game against Sun­der­land on Au­gust 15.

The game has been post­poned un­til the out­come is de­ter­mined, with City re­quired to re­spond to the charges by Thurs­day.

While re­tain­ing the tro­phy was one of the tar­gets set by the man­ager this sea­son, he had even big­ger things in mind when out­lin­ing his sea­son am­bi­tions to his play­ers ahead of the cam­paign.

“Win­ning the Con­ti­nen­tal Cup in our first sea­son as a new club was huge in terms of the team’s de­vel­op­ment,” said Cush­ing. “It gave the play­ers belief in the way we want to play, and as a man­ager it re­ally spurred me on.


“It was the first tro­phy I had won as a coach or man­ager, and the feel­ing was ad­dic­tive. Now I want us to keep that tro­phy and to go on win­ning things.

“From Jan­uary 2 this year – the day we first met up to start prepa­ra­tions for the sea­son – the thing we’ve been striv­ing for is Cham­pi­ons League football.

“Our men’s team is a great ex­am­ple to us. They won the FA Cup in 2011, they’ve won the Premier League twice since and for the last few years they've played in the Cham­pi­ons League - and that’s where we want the women's team to play.

“We went into the sea­son with the aim of qual­i­fy­ing by win­ning the Su­per League, but although Chelsea are favourites now we know that sec­ond place will get us there and that would be mas­sive."

As they close in on their goal. City’s last two WSL games - against

Bristol Academy and Notts County – are both at home and will doubt­less be played in front of big, loudly-sup­port­ive crowds at the Academy Sta­dium.

Among the fans will be Cush­ing’s four-year-old son Harry, a reg­u­lar sup­porter of the women’s team at home games and al­ready a keen young player.

So what foot­balling ad­vice will dad, who not that long ago was coach­ing five-year-old boys, give to Harry and his 18-month old brother Frankie as they grow?

“Hav­ing the lads come to games will give me the op­por­tu­nity to give them the val­ues and be­liefs that we have here as a football club,” said Cush­ing se­nior.

“I will al­ways say to them that if you show com­mit­ment and have a real de­sire and pas­sion to achieve – and that’s all I had as a football coach – then what­ever it is you want to achieve, you stand a good chance of achiev­ing it.”

So watch out in the years ahead. Harry Who? Harry Cush­ing, that’s who. Re­mem­ber the name.


IM­ME­DI­ATE IM­PACT: Nick Cush­ing has been a rev­e­la­tion since tak­ing over as Manch­ester City man­ager – his first head coach­ing role in football

GLIT­TER­ING SUC­CESS: Cush­ing’s City won the Con­ti­nen­tal Cup in their de­but sea­son

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