A review of each players’ contribution to our 2023/24 season.

Across a rollercoaster nine months, City took the Barclays Women’s Super League title race to the final day, equalling our best-ever points tally in the process.

We were ultimately kept from the division’s summit by goal difference, but Gareth Taylor’s side recorded a number of famous wins and set several new records during a memorable campaign.

Now the shutters have fallen on the term, our regular series reflects on each players’ influence on that campaign.

Following goalkeepers Khiara Keating and Sandy MacIver, next up is our centre-back contingent. 


After playing every game for England at the 2023 World Cup en route to the Lionesses’ final appearance, Alex Greenwood continued to rubber-stamp her status as one of world football’s finest operators last term.

The versatile defender played 27 matches in all competitions and was an integral member of the best defence in the WSL – helping Taylor’s team conceded the least goals in the division of 15.

But it’s also Greenwood’s threat in the opposition box, especially from set-plays, which makes her an integral cog in City’s machine.

She registered her first of three assists in all competitions when delivering a pinpoint cross for Laia Aleixandri to head home in our 5-0 win over Bristol City at the Joie Stadium in October.

Her first goal of the season then came against the Vixens in April’s reverse fixture when she powerfully headed home our fourth of the afternoon.

But arguably Greenwood’s finest outing was in our statement 1-0 win at Chelsea in February where she delivered a masterful display as we ended the Londoners’ 33 match unbeaten streak at Kingsmeadow.

Throughout the intense, tactical battle – the duels between the England international and Emma Hayes’ side’s striker Maya Ramirez provided an intriguing sub plot as the pair tested each other’s capabilities.

On that occasion, Greenwood nullified Chelsea’s threat and helped us to a famous victory at a crucial stage of the season.


Although Alanna Kennedy’s 2022/23 campaign was hampered by injuries, there was more than enough evidence to show the Australian and Greenwood could establish a formidable centre-back partnership.

The 29-year-old was limited to seven outings in the previous campaign, but last term she totalled 20 in all competitions and formed an effective pairing with the England international as many expected was possible.

Alongside her immense leadership qualities, ability on the ball and fantastic anticipation, Kennedy registered her first assist of the term in our 3-1 WSL victory over Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in March.

After taking the lead through Jess Park, our defender played a key role in our second when winning a duel in the box to flick the ball back into the danger zone where the England international bagged her second of the afternoon.

But it was during our 3-1 win over Marc Skinner’s side in November’s reverse fixture at Old Trafford where Kennedy played centre stage.

Leading by two goals entering the final 20 minutes, we were reduced to 10 players before the Australian led by example and produced a heroic rearguard display – pushing us on for three points.

At full-time she said: “I think it was about keeping things simple and sticking to our processes [after going a goal down] and believing in our game plan.

“I thrive in those situations where your back is against the wall, so it was nice to come out and get the three points.”


If ever there was a perfect example of the modern-day defender, Laia Aleixandri’s performances in 2023/24 would be it.

Tough tackles, majestic dribbling and pinpoint passes were all on show by our Spaniard who made 29 appearances in all competitions – the most of any defender in our ranks.

As Taylor looked to implement a fluid backline with each member switching positions throughout each match, it’s hardly a surprise to see Aleixandri playing a starring role for City as we pushed for the WSL title.

Her first goal in sky blue arrived in our 5-0 win over Bristol City at the Joie Stadium in October when she headed home from close range and she would go on to total two goals and three assists in all competitions by the season’s end.

If one match was to sum up Aleixandri’s wonderful season, it would perhaps be our battling 1-0 win at Arsenal in the FA Cup in February.

On a sunny but crisp afternoon in north London, the 23-year-old was at the centre of a fine defensive display while also creating attacks from our defensive line.

With the match finely poised and looking likely to end goalless, thus forcing extra-time, she showed her poacher’s instinct inside the Gunners’ area to latch onto a bouncing ball and fire into the net.

Arsenal then produced a late onslaught on our goal but a combination of the Spaniard’s excellent defending and heroics from Khiara Keating preserved a clean sheet as we recorded another statement win in 2023/24.

Aleixandri will be operating on the European stage next term and will no doubt continue her excellent development for City.


The final chapter in our legendary defender’s career – Steph Houghton called time on her playing career at the end of the 2023/24 season.

After scoring in back-to-back matches against West Ham and Reading at the end of the previous term, our colossal captain proved she still inhibited the quality which had seen her operate on the biggest stages with class.

Due to the outstanding defensive options Taylor had at his disposal, Houghton made nine appearances in all competitions but it was her role off the field in leading by example which undoubtedly helped a young group push for the title.

The boss said in April: “The players really respond to her [Houghton] and she’s always first in the team talk or the last to speak to the players before they go onto the pitch and she’s been amazing in that sense.

“Her role this season has changed of course, but she’s done it amazingly well.”

In what was her final appearance for the Club and of a distinguished professional career, Houghton came onto the field in our last league assignment of the term against Aston Villa.

Characteristically, she inspired her team-mates by her actions on the field at Villa Park to help us to a 2-1 victory and match our highest-ever points tally in the division.

The scenes at full-time will certainly live long in the memory as she collected flowers in front of a passionate away following – a fitting farewell to one of the game’s most influential trailblazers.