Reece Land: female managers should be able to move into men's football
There are a lot of people that believe men’s football and women’s football should have separate identities, and I’m one of them. I do, however, believe that there needs to be a crossover in certain areas; the two need to be able to bounce off each other for mutual benefit.
One of those areas is management. Since Phil Neville’s declaration that he saw the England Women’s job as a three-year project, or a stepping stone to his next position, many members of the press and fans have jumped on the idea that the women’s game is seen as a stepping stone to the men’s game by many.
Corinne Diacre was the first woman to coach a men’s professional team in a competitive match in France when she took charge of Clement Foot
For me, there’s another way to look at it. Each presents different opportunities for managers to test and prove themselves. I’m all for managers from the women’s game moving into men’s football, and vice versa, as it will promote and encourage the growth of women’s football.
I’m all for managers from the women’s game moving into men’s football, and vice versa, as it will promote and encourage the growth of women’s football.
The past few weeks or so have really opened my eyes to just how much potential there is in the men’s game for managers currently working in the women’s game. EFL clubs are enquiring about managers in women’s football. I think we are very close to seeing the first UK based manager in women’s football become a manager at an EFL club.
Though there have been a few examples of females managing male teams in Europe – Corinne Diacre, currently head coach of the French women’s team, was the first woman to coach a men’s professional team in a competitive match in France when she took charge of Clement Foot, while Imke Wubbenhorst became the first female to lead a men’s club in the top five divisions of German club towards the end of 2018 with BV Cloppenberg – but we’re still a step away from this happening in the UK.
Once it does happen, though, I think the gates will be unlocked for a number of other managers to do the same. We just need one to take the leap.
For me, the ideal candidate is Emma Hayes. She’s an unbelievable WSL manager, she’s incredibly competitive and ambitious, and she’s got the ability and the drive to succeed in men’s football in my opinion. That’s not to say that men’s football would be a step up for her, but rather a different challenge; and to be the best you have to prove yourself in many different challenges.
To be the best you have to prove yourself in many different challenges.
That works both ways; following Nick Cushing’s move to New York City FC (a male team), Gareth Taylor became the manager of Manchester City Women. Taylor’s credentials, besides being a former player himself, were working with the Manchester City Youth teams, including as coach of the mens under-16s and u18’s teams. He’s made that switch into women’s football in order to give himself a different challenge and test himself in a different arena.
Whether you’re a manager in the men’s football or women’s football, you’re managing the same game and you’re dealing with a lot of the same issues.
Many question whether a female manager in the men’s game would receive the same amount of respect that a male manager would. There are issues with respect across the board already in existence: there are a lot of players in both the men’s and women’s games that show managers little respect, whether that manager be male or female, but this is always more well documented by the press in men’s football. For me it’s something that all managers will already be used to.
When it comes to respect from the fans, it’s awful to say it but female managers, or anyone that’s ever worked in women’s football, will be used to some negative interactions; you only have to look on social media and within 30 seconds you can find examples of these types of comments. Regardless of the sport, whenever there’s a woman involved there will always be dinosaurs chanting. Any woman going into men’s football will be aware of that, and they’ll likely have to see out a transition period: positive play and positive results are ultimately what the fans will base their views and reactions on.
Any woman going into men’s football will likely have to see out a transition period: positive play and positive results are ultimately what the fans will base their views and reactions on.
With that, of course, comes a lot of pressure to prove yourself. If we take Emma Hayes as an example, if she were to take the Chelsea men’s job then and lead them to the Premier League title, she’d be lauded as a hero and an incredible manager. On the other hand, if she were to get them relegated, questions would rightly be asked and the fact that she’s a woman would, unfortunately, likely be a focal point. The future of female managers in the men’s game would then likely be impacted.
But the characters that will succeed and pave the way for others are characters like Emma Hayes: ambitious, outspoken characters that are great at their job. It’ll only take one female manager to do it for others to follow suit, one female manager to get attention for others to take note of women’s football and how great it is. If a manager is good enough in women’s football, they should be considered for jobs in the mens game; gender shouldn’t play a part in the recruitment process.
We shouldn’t shy away from more interaction between men’s football and women’s football: if we want to grow it has to happen. The only thing we have to make sure of is that it’s done for the right reasons. We don’t want men’s football taking advantage of the women’s game just to tick a box, or show they’re taking equality seriously. Women’s football should be respected and valued in its own right, as should female managers.