‘I felt like I was back at Manchester City’: Emslie ranks Melbourne City experience amongst world’s best

Melbourne City striker Claire Emslie says her time spent at the Melbourne club to date is hard to differentiate from her stint at the English powerhouse Manchester City.

The Scottish international played 31 times for Manchester City, scoring eight goals and winning both the FA Women’s League Cup and Women’s FA Cup in the 2018/19 season before joining Orlando Pride in America’s National Women’s Soccer League after the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Emslie then signed a loan deal with Westfield W-League outfit Melbourne City for the 2019/20 campaign, and Emslie says she’s gotten exactly what she expected out of her time at the club so far.

“The club is brilliant, it’s very similar to the setup at Manchester,” Emslie told w-league.com.au.

“I felt like I was back at Manchester City when I walked in the building; the facilities are the same, it’s the same strip, and they have the same values, standards and expectations.

Claire Emslie Manchester City
Claire Emslie playing for Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur

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“It’s been a pretty good transition, I’ve been really welcomed as well so it was an easy decision and I’m really glad to be here.

“I finished my season at Orlando so I was keeping an eye on coming to Australia for the off-season.

“Playing for Manchester City, I was well aware Melbourne City was part of the City Football Group, my Scottish teammates Jen Beattie and Kim Little who both played at Melbourne absolutely loved it.

“To be honest after speaking to them I was pretty happy to come when I got the opportunity.

“I think the professionalism at Melbourne City is amazing, comparing it to Manchester City it’s right up there with them.

“Although it might be a newer team, I think the facilities and standards are top notch.”

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Despite feeling settled and welcomed from her new club from the start, it’s taken Emslie a while to find her feet on the pitch, as she scored her first goal in City colours against Canberra United last Thursday night.

It was her seventh start of the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign, and although it was a relief to break her duck in the league, Emslie says she was largely unfazed by her scoring drought.

Claire Emslie
It was sweet relief for Emslie when she scored against Canberra in Round 9

“It was about time,” Emslie joked reflecting on scoring her first goal for Melbourne City.

“It [felt] good to contribute more.

“I’d like to think [the floodgates are opening], but I try not to think about that.

“I just focus on doing my job for the team; if the goals come then I’m happy but I’ll try my best.”

Emslie could have had a second before half time after winning her side their second penalty of the afternoon, but teammate Kyah Simon took the ball out of her hands and dispatched the spot kick into the back of the net instead.

Although Emslie seemed agitated at the time, the 25-year-old striker says it doesn’t matter who puts the ball in the net, as long as that’s where it goes.

“I was happy to take it, I scored the first one and won the second one but Kyah asked for it,” she said.

“To be fair she’s been practicing them in training and scoring them all so I thought I’d already had one so go on.

“She scored it, so that’s all that matters, she’s a goal scorer, isn’t she? I’m not going to deny her that.

“I think when we start practicing a bit more the manager will make a decision on who he wants to take it. As long as it goes in it doesn’t matter who takes it.”

Emslie wins City a penalty which Simon duly converts

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Emslie is beginning to hit her straps around the same time City are starting to flex their muscle, winning their past two games without conceding a goal and scoring six.

Before these two most recent comfortable wins, however, the league’s top team hadn’t won a game by more than one goal, but going undefeated through their early run of tight games is what Emslie believes have them primed to become Premiers, and ultimately Champions in the 2019/20 campaign.

“I think it took a bit of time to gel but every game we are improving and the last two games we’ve definitely stepped up a bit and hopefully we can keep it going,” Emslie said.

“The first five games, they were tough games that were really close and it was just that one goal difference, those are the games you have to win if you want to be Champions.

“It’s not just about smashing teams four or five nil it’s about grinding out the tough games and fighting to win.

“It is good to win by a bigger margin and contribute so I’m happy with that.

“We’re really lucky, We’ve got a great team with so many good players to fill positions... [if] I wasn’t scoring, someone else would score.

Melbourne City
City are in their stride at the right time of the season

“It’s a really good team now, we all play our part and that shows over the course of the season, we’re going to work hard for each other and play as part of a team that’s going to win at the end of the day.

“It’s a great team environment, I’m enjoying it.”

Emslie will be hoping to continue from where she left off this weekend and get on the scoresheet once again when City host Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.

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Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Kick-off: 5pm AEDT
Venue: AAMI Park

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