HE played, and won, at Old Trafford as a youngster, coached in North America for three years, and now Iain Darbyshire wants to bring silverware to Cardiff City Women for the first time since 2013.

The 28-year-old is in his third season as head coach of the capital side, whose only top-flight title came the same year that boyhood club Manchester United last won the Premier League.

Darbyshire and his players are bidding to end the stranglehold that Swansea City and Cardiff Met have had on the women’s domestic championship for almost a decade.

They have played a game more than Swansea, the reigning champions, in the Genero Adran Premier this term but sit level on points with their rivals at the top of the table.

The two sides will lock horns in Llandarcy next Saturday, some two months after Cardiff lost the reverse fixture 4-0 – it has been their only defeat of the campaign to date.

“It’s been good so far this season, we have progressed well as a team,” said Darbyshire.

“We’ve been scoring lots of goals and playing some good football with quite a few players who have international experience.

“We’re joint top of the league and our only loss was against Swansea.

“I thought we competed well and played some great football that day before losing by a comfortable scoreline. But they haven’t lost a game for three years, so there’s a reason why they are where they are.

“They are well-drilled and have played together for a long time. They’ve got a young squad with a couple of senior players.

“There have been a lot of changes in other teams around the league but they haven’t changed much.”

And for the Bluebirds, it’s about being able to challenge for honours on a consistent basis.

“That’s the plan,” added Darbyshire, who hails from Manchester and played at the home of his beloved Red Devils in a junior competition. “We’re not here to make up the numbers, we want to be playing for the league and cup on a regular basis.

“We always want to challenge and win and be the biggest club in the league, but if we want to do that then we’ll have to beat Swansea.

“We’ve got them again soon and hopefully with a really good performance and a bit of luck we’ll get a good result.

“We’re working hard on the training ground and getting better and better. We’ve been shaping our squad for a couple of years and that’s allowed us to progress.

“We’ve got a good blend of experienced players and younger ones, and the youngsters are hungry and some have represented Wales at age-group level.

“They want to push themselves and they want to win things, and part of our underlying ethos is to instil a winning mentality from a young age.”

He continued: “A lot of players want to be full-time footballers and I hope we can get them to where they want to be.

“The club has developed a lot of players over the past few years. We are in a position to do that as one of the leading clubs in the country.

“The goal is to win things here and ultimately have a career in football.

“We’re not full-time professionals or earning a living from playing for Cardiff City, although I hope that can be the case in the future.

“I fully understand that players have dreams of that full-time contract and representing their country, and if someone gets the chance we wouldn’t stand in their way.

"And developing players who are good enough for that standard also looks good on us.”

Before studying at the University of South Wales, Darbyshire spent three years coaching in the US and Canada while working for Challenger Sports.

He coached up and down the east coast, and feels his time abroad helped him no end.

“I did the whole east coast of America over three years,” he added. “I was in New York, Boston, Miami, Charlotte and Toronto. It was a great experience because I got to coach in lots of different cities and states.

“You become a better person for doing something like that as you meet people from different backgrounds and work in different environments. You develop as a coach and a person.

“If you don’t click with the players and understand what motivates them then you’re going to have a very hard time.”