As the new season approaches it is not long until we see for ourselves how dynamics may change with new signings. Among the confirmed transfers to the two Manchester clubs, there is one that particularly stands out for the Red Devils as a rather clever move. Manchester United have made quite the savvy investment with England midfielder Lucy Staniforth.
Lucy Staniforth is a player that puts in all the work, but rarely reaps the rewards. With her efforts on the pitch criminally overlooked on occasion, Staniforth has served as a bit of an unsung hero in the England camp. Of course, club football and international football are two different entities; the disparity between the two all too often leads to triumph in one and calamities in the other. But in this case, Lucy Staniforth has the chops to excel in both.
An untiring work ethic and a readiness to repair the damage, Staniforth is every bit the resourceful player needed to galvanise a stale performance. She plays with a fire in her belly, a categorical vigour that should perhaps see her name appear in the Lionesses starting eleven more often. However, at club level Staniforth has well and truly earned her place to play amongst the big leagues.
Beginning her senior career at Sunderland, Staniforth re-joined the Black Cats after spells with Notts County, Bristol City and a brief stint at Liverpool. Upon her return, Staniforth quickly secured herself an integral figure in Sunderland’s cohort. Ardour and drive evident, her standout displays deservingly led to her first captaincy. This distinguished form did not waver an inch when Staniforth then moved to Birmingham City, where she, arguably, became the Blues most influential player.
Typically, midfielders fall into three umbrella categories: attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, and depending on tactical formations, winger. Yet it is scarce to find a player that can readily and adroitly take on all three roles. This is exactly where one notes Staniforth. A player that navigates the middle third so well, that at times it appears as if she is playing all three parts simultaneously. Her stout command at the core, the glue holding Birmingham together at times.
Yet, wherever she finds herself on the pitch, Staniforth almost instinctively takes on the role of playmaker. Dropping back into a more defensive position, opportunities are created with Staniforth’s sharp eye for a long ball; her ability to pick and switch the passage of play in an instant often relied upon. Towards the front, a tendency to cut in and take the ball through the centre to smartly open up attacking utilities.
With this vision Staniforth gives herself options. Whether she feeds out to either side, chips a ball into the box or takes a shot herself, she is instrumental in attack. Although she may not be a goal scorer by trade, when Staniforth does hit the back of the net, it is usually nothing short of spectacular. Prolific in taking set pieces, Staniforth can belt one home like nobody’s business when the time calls.
A multifaceted player indeed, Staniforth’s move to Manchester is certainly positive for both parties. For Manchester United, an added quality to close the gap; for Staniforth, the tools to cultivate her potential. An opportunity to fine tune those operational skills that, perhaps, may see her on the pitch in an England shirt more often.
Undoubtably Staniforth will bring an expertise and maturity that will benefit Manchester United to no end, and although she may no longer wear the armband, her innate on-field leadership will surely be plain to see. They say a captain should go down with his ship and Staniforth will simply not go down without a fight. The very sentiment that echoes the spirit of this developing United team.
Lucy Staniforth: principal of the cast; understudy to none.