ALAN MAHON wishes he had the strength and determination of Steph Houghton during his playing days.
The new interim Manchester City boss and former Tranmere midfielder admits he draws inspiration from Houghton’s grit and determination day in, day out.
Five years of working alongside the City skipper has created some of Mahon’s best memories and he is thrilled to continue working with the Lionesses legend.The 41-year-old Irishman said: “It’s fantastic having girls like Steph, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley.
“Even the young ones coming through, it’s brilliant working with them on a daily basis and you see the drive and work ethic they put in. It’s fantastic.
“I wish I had done it as a player, had that drive and the effort Houghton puts in because it’s been absolutely brilliant for me to see.
“But also as a coach to be involved in a growing environment it’s been really, really enlightening and it’s been a pleasure.”
Mahon is a father of two young girls who look up to the City skipper as one of their biggest idols.
He stresses how important it is as a dad to see strong female sportswomen influencing youngsters today.
He said: “It’s massive to have players like Steph as a role model. I’ve got two daughters myself so for them to see people like her is special.
“Players like Steph and Jill Scott give my girls hope, inspiration and something to focus on. It shows what can be achieved, it shows you can do anything.
“But they’re only ten and seven so they’re trying to watch football games.
“I don’t put any pressure on them because whatever they want to do I back them and it seems to be more gymnastics and unicorn horse riding at the minute, who knows?”
The result wasn’t that good, we lost 4-0 if I can remember correctly. I wasn’t that great… Don’t remind me, that’s going back a while ago!
Alan Mahon on his Sporting Lisbon debut vs Real Madrid
After five years at Tranmere, Mahon signed for Sporting Lisbon and made his debut against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League.
He was subbed off after the first half and jokes he would like to put that moment behind him.
The City boss said: “I think I was in and out, the result wasn’t that good, we lost 4-0 if I can remember correctly.
“I wasn’t that great so we’ll probably leave that one alone, don’t remind me, that’s going back a while ago!
“To be honest the football side of it I’m quite cut-throat with that, my career is my career, it’s in the past so I don’t really think of it that much. I forget sometimes that I played.
“I’m in a very lucky position to be involved in football at a club like City that push the women’s project so much. It’s brilliant for me and now I’m constantly thinking about what the players need going forward so we can hopefully get some silverware.”
Mahon admits he still gets the same buzz working with Manchester City as he did as a player ahead of matches.
He is relishing the thought of leading his team for the first time tonight against Bristol City following the postponement of the clash with West Ham on Sunday.
City have a fine record against the Robins, winning nine of their last 11 meetings, including a 5-0 triumph at the Stoke Gifford Stadium back in November.
Mahon said: “You always get those nerves I think being involved in football.
“That’s one of the perks of it — you get kind of a buzz like a bit of anxiety.
“It’s what we’re in this sport for — to get the butterflies in the belly.”
Mahon joined the club a year after the women’s side moved from Wright Robinson College inhouse to share the same facilities as the men at the £200million Etihad campus.
It was a bold statement which Mahon credits for their glittering success. He said: “We all share the same methodology and there’s a lot of experienced heads in the building so it’s brilliant for us.
“Pep Guardiola has his season and we have our season so it’s just about getting through it and using that knowledge and those shared experiences in the club to help us get across the line.”
Bristol City boss Tanya Oxtoby thinks having the weekend off can boost her side tonight.
She said: “Everybody’s feeding off each other now which is great.
“We had an extra session under our belt with the postponement of the game which has done us a world of good. The girls are feeling fresh and ready to go.”