June 11 – One of the benefits of being Manchester United is that you seemingly don’t have to wait in a queue for anything. Two weeks ago the club that has never had a women’s team was catapulted straight into the FA Women’s Super League. Last week they announced former England international Casey Stoney (pictured), an MBE, as head coach of the new team.
Stoney, 36, has just finished her playing career and has been assisting England Women’s manager and former Manchester United player Gary Neville, and is tasked with building the Man Utd Women’s team from scratch.
Manchester does have some local pedigree in women’s football – aside from the Manchester City team – via the Manchester United Foundation which runs a number of programmes for young females in schools and communities across Greater Manchester. The Foundation manages the FA Tier 1 Girls’ Regional Talent Club and this season lost to Reading in the FA Youth Cup Semi-Final.
The step into running a senior women’s team is nevertheless a step up and one Manchester United chairman Ed Woodward said the club is fully supporting.
Announcing the appointment, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said: “Appointing Casey shows the desire we have to succeed and her experience and knowledge of the game, both as a coach and as a player, made her a stand-out candidate for the role… Casey will build on the success of the Girls’ Regional Talent Club and shares our philosophy of creating a pathway from academy to first team.”
In awarding the franchises for the new Women’s Super League, clubs had to show they had the resource to fulfil the professional criteria set by the FA. Man Utd can’t be questioned in this regard but their presence in the top tier so early in their lifespan has more to do with having Manchester United branding present in the WSL than whether they have a team deserving of play in that league.
Though Stoner is singleminded in her mission. “I am delighted to have joined Manchester United. This the biggest club in the world. The fact that we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity,” she said.
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