Manchester City manager Nick Cushing believes his team’s ‘process’ will help them to lift a second SSE Women’s FA Cup in three years on 4 May.
Having beaten holders Chelsea in the semi-finals, City will be favourites against opponents West Ham but, having experienced joy and agony in equal measure at Wembley in the past, Cushing knows his team must turn up.
“I’m always confident coming into games because we’ve won so many,” Cushing said.
“We’ve gone through the process over six seasons of understanding why we win and why we don’t win.
“Evolving that over time breeds confidence – we know how to prepare for games, but we also know what the threats are in not preparing properly.
“If you look at Manchester City, our men’s team have won the FA Cup Final and have lost it in recent years.
“I went to the 1995 FA Cup Final [as an Everton fan] when Paul Rideout scored off Graham Stuart and the crossbar against Manchester United, which was a great experience… but then I also went to the 2008 final where we got beat by Chelsea after going 1-0 up.
“You have to make sure you perform on the day. The one thing we’re really proud of at this football club at the minute is that we’re winning football games but it’s getting harder and harder to win because teams are improving.”
After six years at the helm, City are a side moulded in Cushing’s own image, and to lead them out at Wembley will be another vindication of his management.
He and his squad will appreciate the magnitude of the occasion, but Cushing wants his players to treat is as just another game.
“Leading Manchester City Women out at a cup final is an incredible honour,” he said.
“The FA Cup Final is an incredible occasion, and what it does is give you the opportunity to win, whoever you are.
“It’s about focusing on the process of how we win football games and I’m a big believer in that, a big believer in strategy and preparing to win beforehand.
“We have to stick to what we know, and ultimately if we do that we give ourselves the best chance of winning.”
With West Ham tasting success at the end of their first campaign in the FA WSL, Cushing sees similarities between his own first days as City manager.
“In that new season, you grow every game,” he said. “You grow every month, throughout that season and at the end of the season they’re a strong team.
“We know they will have been disappointed with the 7-1 when we beat them here, we know that isn’t a true reflection of West Ham and that they are a better team than that.
“We know that they’ve got good players, that Matt [Beard] will get them organised and that they will come to win the FA Cup.”
As the energy behind women’s football, SSE’s ambition is to support girls of all ages in England, helping them join in football from grassroots to the elite level. For more information on SSE’s sponsorships and activities visit sse.co.uk