Into her second season with Manchester City, we caught up with Canadian international Janine Beckie to talk about her transition for WSL from NWSL, the weather and the likelihood of seeing her in goal.
After a strong start to the season, City have failed to win in their last three in all competitions, and with a recent ACL injury to Aoife Mannion, the defence has started to look a little vulnerable. Despite the draw in the Champions League and back-to-back losses in the Continental Cup and league, the heads in the City dressing room are a long way from dropping, as Beckie explains.
“Injures are part of the game, unfortunately it happens and losing Aoife was a big loss for us, so we’ve had to deal with that a little bit but I don’t think anyone has gone negative yet. It’s interesting because this club has such a rich history of success and winning and we’ve experienced our fair share of that; we had a pretty incredible season last year, only losing a few games so to lose two back to back I don’t think it’s something a lot of these girls have dealt with for a long time. I think everyone has been on winning teams, everyone has been on losing teams, it’s just a bit of a learning curve to work out what works best for this group – our technical staff are incredibly intelligent in how they prepare us for games and different opponents. They’ll go back and look at these two games at what’s working and what’s not and where we can tweak.”
With Manchester City’s depth lying in the attacking positions, there are more than enough teammates for the 25-year-old to jive with, the winger happy that she can riff off of all of her attacking partners, especially with so many coming back from injury.
“I really enjoy playing with Lauren Hemp even though she’s usually on the other side of the pitch from me so that’s not really a partnership. I think me and Georgia Stanway have a really good partnership that started in pre-season but unfortunately due to her injury got cut short. And I’m really hoping to get a partnership going with Ellen White, I think she’s the type of player everyone dreams of playing with; selfless, relentless, just the way that she plays, you put anything in the box for Ellen, it’s probably a goal.”
She continued, “With Pauline it’s another good one, we’re quite different players and I think that works well. With every forward we have on our roster, I think I pair up quite well with everyone and with all the forwards healthy again, I think we’ll start to see those partnerships come to life.”
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Canadian since arriving last season, the Colorado native needing a little extra time to settle into her new surroundings.
“I had a bit of a weird time when I first got here, being in and out with the national team and preparing for the World Cup, I was gone quite a bit when I first got here and that made the transition a little more difficult. What I’ve learned is Americans are more sensitive than British people, so I had a tough time with the banter when I first got here. My second year has been easier and I think it’s been good for me as a person just to learn about how different people are here and how different cultures can be and I’m very fortunate that Manchester is a great place to live and City is a dream club to be at.”
The Citizens won’t have much time to dwell on the 1-0 loss to Arsenal however as they’re back in action this midweek away to Atletico Madrid, the quick turnaround something the winger thinks can benefit the team.
“Obviously with Georgia Stanway and Ellen White back in the squad that gives us a little more firepower and it might be something that the coach will be a little relived by. It’s something everyone goes through at every point, it’s just not something we’ve seen much at this club and with the short turnaround for obviously a very important game on Wednesday, it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise that we have to play two games in four days, it gives us a chance to put Sunday behind us.”
As for drawing the same team that knocked them out last season?
“I kind of expected it for some reason, and I think everyone had the same reaction. I don’t think anyone was overly frustrated; we were excited to get another shot at them. We have a team this year that can put us a little more against the team they have this year – I thought last year they were dominant, not that we were poor. This year, we’re two very different squads and that benefits us.”
The opposition might have been a predictable one, but the first leg result wasn’t as easy to guess, an away goal for the Spanish champions giving City a little extra work to do in Madrid, but Beckie knows her teammates are up to the challenge.
“I thought we played very well in the first leg but it puts a bit of pressure on us now that they have the away goal, but now they have to defend their own field against us which is no easy task.”
Much like their male counterparts, Champions League glory is all that eludes City, but focusing on the elusive trophy as a thorn in the side isn’t the way forward, insists Beckie.
“To think of it as the only trophy we haven’t won makes it a little more daunting than to think about it from the other side that we have the opportunity to do something that we’ve never done and, in my opinion, we have the squad to do that this season. Obviously, it’s going to be a tall task on Wednesday to come out with a result but we’re looking forward to it.”
The rain and the forgotten goalkeeper
Having spent just shy of seven years in Texas, first at Texas Tech University before being signed by the Houston Dash – before getting traded to Sky Blue in New Jersey – there was a degree of adjustment required to deal with the British winter (and summer), but expecting far worse, the Cannuck was pleasantly surprised…
“Honestly, I expected it to be way worse over here! I was pleasantly surprised, it rained a lot, but it didn’t rain every single day for the entire day as I had imagined. It’s definitely a tough season to get through and I miss the sun a lot over the winter and thanks to how much I travel, I got out of here a lot and it wasn’t having a super rough effect on me [last year].”
Despite her many goals for club and country, if Beckie has any viral fame it’s for the few minutes she put on a pair of gloves and went in goal at the 2015 Pan-Am games after Stephanie Labbe had been sent off. With Karen Bardsley ruled out for a chunk of time just before the season started, had the Canadian offered herself up as a back-up goalkeeper to Nick Cushing?
“Haha! There was a joke for a while when we were trying to find another goalkeeper as back up for Ellie [Roebuck] because we went into a few games saying, ‘If Ellie gets injured, we really don’t have an option!’ So we joked around a little but and he’s seen the video of me going in goal but I don’t think he was very impressed, we joked about it… I would very easily put my hand up and jump in if needed but I’m very thankful we found a very, very capable back up for Ellie in Karima [Benameur].”
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