Winning the Continental Cup could give Manchester United a feeling greater than winning the league, says defender Abbie McManus.
The 27-year-old won the trophy three times with Manchester City, including in their debut season in the Women’s Super League in 2014, before swapping for the red side of the city last summer.
Now, ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final clash with Brighton, she is targeting a fourth success and is excited by the prospect of upsetting the favourites with United, just like she did with City six years ago.
“When I was at Man City, the first year, that was our trophy,” she said.
“The feeling of winning that trophy is better than when we won the league because we were the underdogs.
“I’m happy to say that I think Manchester United will be the underdogs. We are new to the league, we are not meant to pick up silverware this year, but we want that.
“We want silverware so hopefully we can get the win against Brighton and go into the next round.”
McManus was only 21 years old when she collected the first of her three winners’ medals in the competition, something she followed up with a WSL title and two FA Women’s Cups.
This time around she is one of the more experienced heads in the dressing room, looking to help a youthful Man United team get their own first taste of silverware to set them on their way.
“I hate the fact that I am always in the old group now!” she laughed.
“It is challenging me as a player personally as well. I have now got to help the younger ones, whereas I used to have other people helping me because I was the younger one.
“It is definitely pushing me on and I think it will help my England career as well, [to be] a little bit more mature, leading by example rather than just following the pack like I was at Manchester City.
“The girls come, we chat, talk football, they ask about my experiences, things like that and it is good.
“I still don’t look at myself like a leader or anything like that, I’ve just come to a new club, made more friends and I am enjoying my time here.
“If I can help a younger player who looks up to me… I’m playing centre half at the minute with Millie [Turner] so just to talk to her at the back is good for her and good for me that now I am the one that is speaking rather than being the one next to Steph [Houghton] or Jen [Beattie] that was the quiet one, or they were speaking to me.
“It is definitely building me as a player and hopefully push me on further.”
A successful cup run can help those young players push on too, McManus says.
“It’s a learning curve for sure because they will remember the first one,” she added.
“I remember the first Continental Cup more than anything else, more than I would even say the World Cup, because it is something that… I don’t know.
“We were playing Arsenal [in the final]. We were definitely the underdogs and if we can do that here at Man United, I’m sure the girls will remember it forever.”