14/04/2024

image: @ManCity twitter

At Manchester City, Mary Fowler can reach her potential and help the club match their ambition

Manchester City’s women’s team are ambitious. Like their men’s side, they are well funded and stacked with talent. Despite this, Gareth Taylor’s side finished in third place last season, and were nine points adrift of Chelsea.

In response, they have signed one of the brightest talents in world football, Australia’s Mary Fowler.

Still just 19, Fowler has rapidly grown from a player with a promising reputation to one with an impressive record. She made her debut as a 15-year-old for The Matildas, but really found her feet in 2021.

Out of necessity, the former Adelaide United striker shifted into attacking midfield. Since then, she has scored seven times and been involved in many of Australia’s best attacking moves.

She was once described as “the next Sam Kerr” but she is a very different player. Fowler cruises rather than explodes into space. She can beat a player with her first touch and her passing range is as impressive as her vision.

Europe was always her destination. Prior to the 2019 World Cup, she travelled to train with Cristiano Ronaldo’s sprint coach and trial with clubs. It was a controversial move at the time as it meant missing a series of Matildas friendlies. However, she has since spent two seasons in Ligue 1 with Montpellier and begun to show what she is capable of.

Her move to Manchester City on a remarkable four-year deal is the culmination of years of work. But can she help bridge the gap with Chelsea in the FWASL?

City are making a statement

It is tight at the top of the FAWSL, and the stakes are high. Finishing below third place means missing out on Champions League football, titles are decided by goal difference and any loss can be costly to a club’s ambitions for that season and beyond.

Gareth Taylor started the 2021/22 season with high hopes, and rightfully so. He had added significant talent to the team that finished a close second to Chelsea the previous campaign.

Hayley Raso and Khadija “Bunny” Shaw were added to an attack that already included Georgia Stanway, Caroline Weir and Ellen White, all full internationals. Lauren Hemp was the reigning young player of the year, and Alanna Kennedy had been poached from Tottenham Hotspur to add depth and versatility.

Things did not go to plan. Early season losses to West Ham and Arsenal and a draw to Manchester United turned a title charge into an uphill race. Taylor side eventually rallied with a undefeated streak of 18 games. Impressive as it was, it was too late.

The fan base became quickly restless with Taylor. A Conti Cup win over Chelsea was undone by an F.A Cup final defeat to the same opponent. The gap was seen to be widening.

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Since then, the squad has gone significant change. Lucy Bronze has left for Barcelona, while Weir and Stanway have departed.

Although White is still an excellent striker, she will be 33 next season and it is time for City to look to the future. To partner the best young English talent up front in Hemp and Chloe Kelly, they have signed the best young Australian talent in Fowler.

“Mary is without a doubt, one of the most exciting young talents in the game right now,” Taylor said through the club.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have her join us here at City.”

“She has a maturity beyond her years, but her for she’s excited to come to England to learn and grow as a player.”

“The fact that she made her senior international debut at just 15 really does show what high regard she is held in by the football world, and we feel as though she’ll fit right in here with our team at City.”

Fowler will be joined by  Venezuelan sensation, Deyna Castellanos from Athletico Madrid. The new look attack will be supported by Laila Aleixandri and Leili Ouhabi in defence. City are making a statement ahead of next season.  

The Future on two continents

Although Mary Fowler has played the majority of her club football as a striker, Gareth Taylor has indicated that he has been keeping an eye on her international performances. English fans will remember her from her spectacular goal that helped knock Team GB out of the Toyko Olympics.

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1421065984052535296?s=21&t=d-PITWJiiim1TVqLfA-VAQ

It is too early to say what Fowler’s best position is, but City have depth in wide areas and strength at centre forward. Fowler is most likely to be used behind the strikers. In most games, City enjoy the larger share of possession, they have multiple thre,ats and she will have chances to impose herself on the game.

The length of the deal indicates that City see this as an investment in their future. They have given the player the security she will need to reach her potential and help the club reach theirs.

“Having her put pen to paper on a four-year deal also speaks volumes about our own commitment,” continued Taylor.

“And also ours as a club to her development.

“We can’t wait to start working with her.”

She will likely take some time to adjust to the league, and Taylor is not afraid to rotate his squad so starting in every game is unlikely. But the Townsville born striker, who has travelled the world in pursuit of her dream has found a long-term home for the foreseeable future.

Fowler has long been touted as the future of Australian Football. At Manchester City, she will have the chance and stage to be the future of the English game too.

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