Marc Skinner insists Manchester United’s “rebels” are closing the gap on Chelsea going into the Women’s FA Cup final on Sunday.
Wembley is expecting a 90,000 sell-out crowd – a record for a women’s domestic club match – for the showdown between the top two teams in the Women’s Super League.
United hold a one-point lead over Chelsea but Emma Hayes’ side have a game in hand and, with three WSL matches to play, are favourites to win a fourth consecutive title.
Skinner said: “We are getting closer. We remember the Chelsea game last time and I’m absolutely convinced – and we have got VAR this time – we should have had two penalties and you might be talking about the title race differently.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if you want to pick a favourite then Chelsea should be put on that mantle because they’ve done this before.
“But the reality is we have a team of rebels and that might not be the fact on Sunday.
“Single game, single focus, and we will try to accept all the psychological challenges and manage and adapt the best we can. We are there to try and win it.”
Chelsea have been in fine form since bowing out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage to Barcelona.
They have beaten Liverpool, Everton and Leicester to narrow the gap on United and scored 15 goals in the process.
“I’m sure the coaches of Leicester and Everton will be disappointed with the mistakes in those games that made it a little bit easier for Chelsea to score those (13) goals,” said Skinner, who has labelled Blues top scorer Sam Kerr a “machine”.
“Chelsea create chances in every game they play, so we’ve got to hurt them at the other end.
“If we do that, and play to that mentality, then it’s going to be a really exciting game.
“We know we can beat Chelsea and that’s not saying we’re going to beat Chelsea because we know how difficult that is. We’ve got to trust our process of play.”
But England Euro 2022 heroes Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Mary Earps, as well as Norwegian midfielder Vilde Boe Risa, have won every single final they have played in.
Toone also scored against Brazil in the 2023 Women’s Finalissima last month, which England won on penalties with Earps proving a shoot-out heroine.
Asked if United had practised penalties ahead of Sunday, Skinner said: “Absolutely. It would be remiss not to do that. We’ve been doing it over the last few weeks.
“Mary’s experience will be massive, but we can’t win this on individuals’ experience. We have to do it as a collective, because we’re going to have to suffer.”