Manchester United Women manager Manager Casey Stoney watches from the touchline Manchester United Women v Lewes Women, Women's Championship football match, Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, UK - 11 May 2019 Photo: Jon Super for The FA

Manchester United boss the strongest FAWSL candidate for potential England vacancy?

The Football Association are understood to be set to announce the news that England manager Phil Neville will step down from his position next summer according to reports by The Times yesterday afternoon.

The 43-year-old took charge of the Lionesses in January 2018 and delivered the SheBelieves Cup in 2019 but on-field progress has since stalled, particularly since the Lionesses finished in fourth place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.

The speculation has already started on who could replace Neville from July 2021 with three current managers in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League having been mentioned, those being Arsenal’s Joe Montemurro, Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and Casey Stoney of Manchester United. We look at the credentials of the latter with Stoney likely to be one of the most popular names linked to the potential vacancy.

After the wildcard of The Football Association appointing a men’s coach into the Lionesses managerial hot seat, they may now opt for a safer option with England preparing for hosting the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2022. In Manchester United boss Stoney, there is someone who knows the England set up very well after making 130 appearances for the Lionesses as a player in a 17-year senior international career. She holds less management experience than some of the other names mentioned for the role but has been hugely successful in a short space of time.

Stoney had a short spell as a player-manager with Chelsea in 2009 before continuing to focus on her playing career for a further eight years. In 2018, she was appointed the first manager of the newly-formed Manchester United senior side and helped create a brand new squad from scratch which romped to the FA Women’s Championship title in their first year. The 37-year-old has guided United to fourth position so far in their debut campaign in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and is one of the brightest young managers in the women’s game.

Of the other club bosses paired with the England vacancy, Chelsea boss Hayes has the trophies under her belt to show for her successes over the years but moving into the men’s game always seems to have appealed to her more than the women’s national team job. She is currently working on a project which is very close to her heart at Chelsea while lifting the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy is likely to remain as one of her greatest career goals.

Other than Welshman Barrie Williams in 1991, The Football Association have never appointed a non-English coach for the national team. That trend would need to change if they were to pursue Arsenal boss Montemurro. The likeable Australian coach has made a big impact since moving into Barclays FA Women’s Super League management in 2017. He has four league titles to his name along with the FA Women’s Continental League Cup which he lifted with Arsenal in 2018. Whilst Montemurro may consider international management, he may favour leading Australia over England in the future.

Of the possible candidates working in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, Manchester United boss Stoney looks to have the strongest potential link to the England job while her achievements for club and country speak for themselves. We must remember that current boss Neville’s future departure has not yet been confirmed though. Once that happens, the managerial merry-go-round is sure to go into full spin with speculation on who will replace him.

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