Manchester City: New director Nils Nielsen determined to take club back to top of women's game

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Manchester City are targeting a return to the top of the English women's game, new director of football Nils Nielsen has emphasised.

What is set to be a trophyless 2022/23 season for the side sees City - whose sole Women's Super League title to date came in 2016 - currently lying fourth in the table and in danger of missing out on the Champions League places. Nielsen, former head coach of his native Denmark and later Switzerland, was named as City's first women's team's director of football last week. The 51-year-old's role has him overseeing coach and player development, while leading on player recruitment across the entirety of the women and girls' pathway. When asked about aims for the side, Nielsen said: "The long-term target is clearly that we want to be back on top, to be the number one club in England. "That cannot happen overnight, we cannot just say we want that so it's going to happen. "But we can work (towards) that goal and take little steps every day in that direction, and that is what we're going to do. Also with recruitment, with little changes in the set-up, that all will make a good situation better, so we can go back to winning ways. "I also think the potential in the team as it is right now is very big. We have a lot of talent and weapons we can use. "But there are elements we need to address fast, and then over the next couple of years other elements we need to look at so we can keep improving. Every transfer window, every season we need to be a little bit better than we were the season before, otherwise we're not going to catch up to the teams in front of us. "Right now we're a little bit behind the best teams, just a few points. We need to catch up on that, and that means we also need to act short-term. We have a lot of potential, but we need a bit more consistency. "I don't really see we need to change that much, because the quality is there, but we need some elements that are not there right now, short-term to win something. Long-term we are in a very good position." Gareth Taylor's side, with two matches left, are behind third-placed Arsenal on goal difference with the Gunners holding a game in hand. Nielsen stressed that "even if we end up number four this season, it doesn't mean we have to close the club, just that we have to wait another year before we play in Europe", adding: "I don't think it will change the recruitment at all - it will not change what we try to do. "How successful we are in doing it, I cannot say if it changes that, but I hope players and agents we're talking to can also see the bigger picture. The club is still attractive, with everything they need to succeed as players." Asked about areas of the squad that need addressing, Nielsen said: "There are several, but everything doesn't have to happen this summer. "Actually the main task in the beginning has to be the re-signing of players, and we've done a lot of work on that, but we also have a couple of players we're looking at. "I think most top teams would like to have a goalscorer, somebody that consistently puts the ball in the net, and we would like that too. But let's see, and there are also other areas in the team that over the next year, year and a half needs to be looked at." Regarding the academy, Nielsen said: "There are a couple of things missing linking it to the first team, and that we need to do a little bit better, and that will be what we're focusing on in the coming years, Jayne (Ludlow, City's girls' academy technical director) and I. "I'm sure together we're going to get everything done in a way so we will in a period of maybe five years see players from the academy playing as starters at Manchester City."

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