Manchester United have the best left winger in the country in Leah Galton, according to her manager Casey Stoney, who Galton credits with helping her fall back in love with the game.
But, after a tough time in Germany, Galton is now rediscovering the form that earned her such a good reputation in the United States, where she scored 48 goals in 82 games at Hofstra University to earn herself a place on Sky Blue’s roster.
“[She is the] best left winger in the country for me,” Stoney said, gushing with praise for United's No.11 after her starring role in their first win of the season - a 2-0 result over Liverpool.
“[She is] naturally left footed, powerful, strong, goes past people and is playing with a smile on her face.
“When we [signed] her she was out of the game and wasn’t interested in the game.
“For us to get her playing, get her smiling, get her enjoying the game that she loves was the most important thing, and now she’s flying.”
Galton agrees and credits Stoney for the belief and support that she has given her.
“Casey’s just one of those coaches, she doesn’t put any pressure on you,” she said.
“For me to play well, I just tell her I have to be happy, so she’s making that environment and creating an environment where I am so happy, where I feel like I am playing well, and I think that’s very important for our team. It’s not pressure.
“Some people can react well to pressure, some people don’t. But I think the fact she doesn’t create that pressure environment, she just says go out there, the last words she has is ‘have fun’, and I think we all take that and have fun, because we know we’re good enough to do well.”
It's a big compliment for Stoney, who admits she is learning every day and has had a few surprises in her time in management so far.
"I was surprised by how much you have to manage off the pitch as opposed to how much you manage on the grass, and that’s a challenge for me and I’m learning all the time on that," she explained.
"I have to make sure we’ve got enough support around the players, well-being coach, support from the club, support from the staff to make sure, no matter what, that player has got somewhere to go if they need it."
When asked how she has created an environment for Galton to do well, Stoney elaborated further on her man-management.
“We invest in the people," she said. “They’re footballers at the end of the day, but they don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care, that old proverb, and it’s so important because she fell out of love with the game.
“We needed to take the pressure off, get her back in love with the game, and keep the pressure off.
“Just go and express yourself, do what you do, one vs one, be positive, get her the ball and build her up. Because I think, again, she can be whatever she wants to be.
“We need to keep her there,” Stoney added. “She’s very important to us because she gives us something that no other team has got.”