Women's Championship difficult to call, says Sheffield United Women star Maddy Cusack
Expect the unexpected.
That’s the prediction of Sheffield United Women midfielder Maddy Cusack for the 2021/22 Women’s Championship season.
The division has been expanded to 12 teams with three sides from last term – Coventry United, Crystal Palace and Lewes – also turning full-time over the summer.
That, coupled with no obvious favourite for WSL promotion, according to England legend Sue Smith, means the league looks set to be more competitive than ever if the early results are anything to go by.
After just two weeks only three teams remain unbeaten, one of which – Charlton Athletic - has played once.
"This year especially I think anyone can beat anyone,” said 25-year-old Cusack, now in her fourth season with the Blades.
"A lot of the lower teams from last season have put a lot of money in to try and progress.
"It’s going to be a lot more competitive. With the investment from other teams you can’t really base much on last season because so much has changed.”
Sheffield United have remained part-time after earning fourth spot behind three professional clubs last time out.
But Cusack insisted the team is determined not to be left behind as more of their rivals go for broke.
She said: "We are realistic in that a lot of teams in the division are full-time but we back our own ability and we want to do better than we did last year.
"Redders [head coach Neil Redfearn] has instilled that winning mentality in us.”
United bounced back from the opening day disappointment of losing to Blackburn to beat last seasons runners-up Durham on Sunday.
Cusack added: “What an amazing win to get back on track. Last season we lost points against teams that finished above us so it was good to take points off one of the teams we know are going to be up there at the end of the season.”
Coventry United are up next on Sunday (2pm kick-off) with three ex-Blades in their ranks – Naomi Hartley, Nat Johnson and two-time Women’s Championship Player of the Year Katie Wilkinson.
Cusack said: “There’s a lot of expectation on them, for us equally we have got really high standards.
"It will be nice to see them [former teammates] but once you cross that white line it will be business.”