Manchester United Women have secured promotion to the FA Women's Super League next season with three games of the 2018/19 campaign to spare after a stunning debut year.
Having only formed last summer and starting out in the second tier Women's Championship, United clinched their place in the top flight, subject to being granted a WSL license - seen as a formality, with a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
Fittingly, United had actually started their maiden league campaign with a monstrous 12-0 win over the same opposition back in September, as Casey Stoney's side laid down a huge statement for the season ahead.
Millie Turner, Alex Greenwood, who will be with England at the 2019 World Cup this summer, Jess Sigsworth, Ella Toone and Charlie Devlin were the goalscorers this time around.
With two promotion places on offer, the result took league leaders United 11 points clear of third place Charlton, while just one more win will clinch the league trophy ahead of Tottenham.
In 17 league fixtures this season, United have dropped just five points, winning 15 times. They have conceded only seven times over the course of the campaign and have netted an incredible 81, an average of 4.8 goals per game and more than twice as many as the next best scorers.
It is expected that United will fare well in the WSL next season, having reached the semi finals of the Continental Cup and quarter finals of the FA Cup in 2018/19. They beat top flight opposition in both competitions, including Brighton, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham, and were only knocked out by Arsenal, who are WSL leaders, and Reading, another top flight team.
Given that the squad was only put together from scratch in July, manager Stoney revealed in an interview with BBC Sport earlier this week that the players have taken boxing lessons and dance classes together to foster team spirit and come together in such a short space of time.
"When they came together last summer, they were effectively 21 strangers coming in to a room. It's quite incredible where we're at, in terms of the team togetherness. That's not by chance," Stoney said, explaining she dubbed the project 'Team United'.
"We've been boxing at six o'clock in the morning, character-building. I believe in taking the players out of their comfort zones, because it stretches them.
"We brought a dance teacher in. I couldn't stand that. But some of them loved it, some of them hated it, just like some of them loved the boxing and some of them hated that."
Formal confirmation over United's WSL place next season is expected in mid-May once the license application has been processed and finalised. No problems are anticipated.
Source : 90min