Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 November 2019

Manchester City's Ellie Roebuck happy for Ederson to pass on goalkeeper advice

The Manchester City Women's goalkeeper pulled off a stunning save as City won their opening WSL match against Manchester United

Manchester City's Ellie Roebuck is a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at her feet. Reuters
Manchester City's Ellie Roebuck is a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at her feet. Reuters

It is part of Pep Guardiola’s ethos. Manchester City’s goalkeepers have to double up as the 11th outfield player, coming out of their box to pass the ball with a proficiency Joe Hart could not muster and which previous generations of shot-stoppers may not recognise.

It is not just confined to Ederson, either. The Brazilian spent some of his formative years playing as a left-back. His female counterpart, Ellie Roebuck, revealed she shares a similar background.

“I've grown up playing outfield and it comes a bit more naturally to me to play with my feet,” she said. “I think it's the philosophy throughout the club and I've been here since I was 15 so for the past four years, it's really been embedded in me so it obviously helps and I've got great players around me to help that.”

Ederson is an influence on Roebuck. “We train outside in the same area,” said the 19-year-old England international. “Their goalkeeper coach Xabi [Mancisidor] is always coming across and contributing, giving us ideas. So it's a really good working relationship and that reflects well on the club in general.” There was no pun intended when she said Ederson’s advice came “more in passing.” Roebuck added: “It's just the environment itself, it's more just natural. But I think that's what's really special about the club.”

For all her excellence on the ball, she excelled at the goalkeeper’s more traditional duties as City began their season with a 1-0 win over Manchester United on Saturday. Roebuck made a stunning save from United’s debutant forward Jane Ross. “Sometimes those moments happen,” she said modestly. Her teammate Caroline Weir was more effusive. “Ellie's save was a huge moment in the game,” said City’s goalscorer.

It was a save with significance in the first Women's Super League Manchester derby. It may also matter in an internal battle in the City ranks. Roebuck is in competition with veteran Karen Bardsley, a player she wants to displace for club and country. City manager Nick Cushing has never been afraid to promote youngsters but selection is now simple with Bardsley currently sidelined.

“I'm not too sure [how long she is out],” said Roebuck. “I think it's just a progressive thing. It gives me a good opportunity and I can only focus on myself. I've done that even when I'm in competition with KB, obviously.”

Manchester City's Caroline Weir, centre, celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Manchester United in the Women's Super League at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Reuters
Manchester City's Caroline Weir, centre, celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Manchester United. Reuters

Roebuck was watched on Saturday by Phil Neville, the manager who omitted her from England’s World Cup squad. The teenager is looking to leapfrog not merely Bardsley but also United’s Mary Earps and Chelsea’s Carly Telford, the trio who helped the Lionesses reach the semi-finals in France.

“Obviously the aim for me is to be England's No 1,” Roebuck said. “That's obviously a really difficult task because there's other top-quality goalkeepers in England.”

It ranked as a hard-fought win for City on Saturday, sealed in spectacular style by Weir, and it persuaded the Scotland international the battle for the title will be hotly contested. “I think it's going to be a really competitive league,” she said. “Obviously Chelsea and Arsenal are always up there and have really strong squads. United have a strong squad and Liverpool and Reading.”

City are fighting on various fronts. They begin their Champions League campaign in the last 32 by facing Lugano on Thursday, and Weir added: “We go to Switzerland and have a really big game there. We have so many games so it's just about focusing on one at a time. We want to get far in the Champions League but we're not looking too far ahead at this point.”

Updated: September 9, 2019 04:38 PM

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