When any player signs for Manchester United, it tends to be a big deal.
Despite being one of the biggest clubs in the football world, the Old Trafford side took a long time to create a women’s football team, finally establishing one for the 2018-19 campaign, starting in the second-tier, which they ended up winning in their first season.
Now in the FA Women’s Super League, United spent some time in the summer recruiting players, which included a left-back reinforcement in Lotta Ökvist.
The 22-year-old arrived from Hammarby IF in Sweden, and made her debut for the club in the first game of the new season against Manchester City, starting the game before being replaced in the 56th minute by Amy Turner.
She hasn’t played a lot since, but having now spent six months or so at the club, the young defender sat down with Aftonbladet to discuss her time in Manchester and what it’s meant to her.
Of her debut, she said: “It was a really cool match, but I picked up a concussion and was away for a week. After that I played against Liverpool, but I haven’t played much since. Just two cup matches. It’s been a bit tough. A pretty big change for someone who came from Elitettan”.
She added: “It has taken some time to get into everything, not least to move to another country, but I feel that I develop in training every week. It’s a good environment to be in, so it’s been good, but also tough. I thought maybe I’d get more playing time, but these are good players, the competition is tough”.
Asked if she expected it to be this tough, she continued: “No, I wasn’t, but I like it. I want to know why I can’t play and what I have to work on. Right now, for me, it’s the physical side that Casey [Stoney] points to. All I can do is keep training. Everyone is confident with the ball in their feet and we work hard for each other. We have a good team”.
Speaking of Casey Stoney, United’s current manager, she was one of the main reasons why Ökvist made the move to Manchester.
The defender explained: “She’s very honest and tough, which I like. I would say that’s the biggest difference compared to Sweden. Women’s football is calmer at home, from what I’ve experienced. Here, you’re more hard and straight. Casey has played at the highest level and she knows what she’s talking about”.
For Ökvist, the ‘only problem’ remains the fact Man United Women still don’t have their ‘own facility’, but she remains ‘impressed’ with the club’s professionalism.
She said: “It feels like it’s more than just a football club. It’s noticeable that it’s a big brand, all over the world”.