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Manchester City Needs to Play Rose Lavelle in Her Actual Position


To say that Rose Lavelle shone in 2019 would be an understatement. The breakout star of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup not only won the tournament along with the rest of U.S. women’s national team, but she scored a scintillating goal in the final to seal the USWNT’s win against the Netherlands.

Lavelle’s efforts in the final, as well as in the other five matches she started in the tournament, led to her being awarded the Bronze Ball as the third-most outstanding player in the tournament. Later in the year, she was named the sixth-best player in the world at The Best FIFA Football Awards and was also named as part of the starting eleven in the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World XI.

At only 25, Lavelle is expected to be one of the faces of the USWNT for years to come, specifically when some of the older players of this Golden Generation start to bow out of international duty.

So it’s no wonder that her fall signing with Manchester City, along with USWNT teammate Sam Mewis, generated as much excitement as it did. City, and in turn, the entire FAWSL, was getting two superstars.

But with excitement comes expectations. Mewis has hit the ground running at Manchester City. Lavelle has not.

It’s not entirely or even mostly the young USWNT star’s fault. A few months into her Man City stint, it’s clear that coach Gareth Taylor does not know how to utilize Lavelle on his team. Not only has this diminished Lavelle’s playing time and impact, but it’s hurt City’s chances as a team.

The biggest problem stems from Taylor playing Lavelle out of position during her limited chances. Lavelle primarily plays as an advanced central midfielder in the #10 role. In theory, Lavelle’s job is to provide an attacking drive from midfield against the opposition’s backline, which will then often lead to one of two scenarios: she is either able to use her linkup play to create a chance for a teammate or give herself a shot on goal (as she did in the World Cup final).

Taylor, however, seems adamant on playing Lavelle elsewhere. She has played on the left quite a bit, whether as a left midfielder or as a left winger, and Taylor has also shoehorned her in as a centre-forward this season. Playing out of position has handicapped Lavelle. And because she hasn’t been able to show her true potential, she’s been benched. Against Manchester United, she didn’t even step foot on the field.

It’s a frustrating cycle to witness. And what’s even more frustrating is that Manchester City could really use someone like Lavelle.

City are known as one of the FAWSL’s ‘Big Three’ along with Arsenal and Chelsea. The three have been interchangeable at the top of the league since 2014.

Things might change this season with both Manchester United and Everton starting off strong. Both are ahead of City, who sit in fifth place right now. City’s rocky start has come down to inconsistent performances. They either blow teams away or are stagnant in their attack.

A pivotal moment for City was the recent Manchester Derby. It was a chance to advance higher than fifth in the table and to take off points from their league-leading rival. City was cruising by halftime, up two goals thanks to Chloe Kelly and Laura Coombs, but United mounted a comeback, and by the seventy-fifth minute, the match was tied 2-2. City had over 15 minutes to push for a late winner, but Lavelle, a player whose specialty is unlocking tight defenses, remained on the bench as an unused substitute while her teammates struggled against United’s robust defensive line.

The match ended with both teams getting a point a piece, and the question still standing: Why is Lavelle not playing?

City remains in fifth now, and while it is still only halfway through the season, there is a good chance that they do not finish in the top three and are unable to qualify for a Champions League spot, something that has become somewhat of a standard for Manchester City.

It is unclear as to why Lavelle is being mismanaged by Taylor. The good news is that the answer to City’s problems is sitting on their bench. Fans need to hope that Taylor understands that. He’ll have a chance to show he does when Manchester City and Manchester United collide once more in Thursday’s Conti Cup match.