Discussion: Not The End Goal

Once again a club in the men’s lower leagues is crying out for a new manager.  This time it’s Wrexham that town that is on the borders. Half English half Welsh and everything in between and their National League side need a new gaffer. And of course, as with anything within British Culture, you can have a punt on the outcome. Traditionally you get smaller odds for the most likely and higher odds the most outlandish. At the time of writing Nigel Clough, son of Brian, is the favourite at 4/1 and least likely is Kevin Nolan at 33/1. A sneaky name has appeared on the list though, an unexpected name no doubt thrown in by bookies to give some poor soul a glimmer of hope at a fortune.  Instead, the name Casey Stoney has caused outrage from a certain sector of football fans

The outrage began as the dark horse had the odds on her becoming the new Wrexham manager slashed. Previously, a rank outsider, she became the 3rd favourite in a matter of hours. Many Wrexham took to social media to let their feelings known. The most prevailing feeling was ‘ a woman managing us, we would be a laughing stock. Now is not the time for political correctness we need to win. She has only been the manager of a team that could be beaten by a team of ten-year-olds apparently. One even generously said that if Stoney had something different between her legs. She would have been welcomed with open arms. To say they were less than pleased is an understatement.  The main reason it seemed they didn’t feel Casey Stoney was worthy of the position.

So let’s be frank here, they thought that she wasn’t ready for the ‘step up’ into men’s football. The same Casey Stoney who has won a bronze World Cup medal. Casey Stoney who has won the FA Cup four times. Former England captain, yeah that, Casey Stoney. That’s just the highlights of her playing career. As the manager of Manchester United, she gained promotion her first year, with an impressive 18 wins out of 20. Then in the WSL, a consistent 4th over her last two seasons plus chasing Champion Leagues places.  However, clearly, she’s not ready for the heady heights of the football conference. Their the last manager spent their entire career in League Two and mid table League Two at that.

The idea that is Men’s football is a step up is at best misguided at worst abhorrent sexism.

The idea that is Men’s football is a step up is at best misguided at worst abhorrent sexism. That every coach within the Women’s game is just waiting until they get the call to move across. That the woman’s game is not a legit sport and is just a training ground. This myth has been purported throughout English football. Former England manager Phil Neville stated that his tenure with the Lionesses was just a stepping stone to club football. Though his success with Inter Miami on par with that of the Lionesses under his instruction. I.e there hasn’t been much.  Neil Redfern was given the Liverpool Women’s job to only leave one match later to take on the Newcastle youth team.  He has since returned to the fold by taking up a post at Sheffield United women. Another high profile move between the two sports was Nick Cushing who after seven years at Manchester City went across the pond to New York City. The media, in all these examples, lavished praise on the manager’s career progression. Never mind the fact, that Neville was already at the pinnacle of football as a National Team manager.

Speaking of reaching the pinnacle, another manager that has been asked when they are moving on up is Chelsea’s manager Emma Hayes.  As someone who has won everything, they can domestically, and was only four conceded goals from winning the Champions League. Sorry, Chelsea fans, too soon?

Last season Chelsea’s stablemates AFC Wimbledon needed a manager and Emma Hayes was high on the bookies’ list.  I mean she was perfect, having a high success rate, taking Chelsea from second place bridesmaids to a first-rate bunch of brides. Plus her commute would be the same. Everyone’s a winner. Of course, it was utter nonsense and Hayes was very quick to shut the rumours. Joking that AFC wouldn’t be able to afford her, Hayes made the serious point of how could you consider chasing European glory a downgrade to fighting relegation in League One.

Which is the whole point I am trying to make, probably a bit more succinctly. We, and by we I mean a certain sub-sect of football fans, need to stop putting Men’s football above all else.

We all know why they think this, both on a conscious and subconscious level.  Women football to them is a vanity project,  to allow to continue until it interferes with the ‘real sport’. Women stay in your lane unless told otherwise.  And Lord help ( or the deity of your choice) help any women step across the football divide. From Alex Scott and Karen Carney, former players turned commentators to Jacqui Oatley professional journalist and every female on TV in between. The abuse aimed at all concerned is vile. From the benign to the criminal, few male counterparts suffer the same vitriol. Unless your skin tone is anything other than gammon pink, then you may have some idea. Again it’s the idea that women sports stars are stepping up, moving into the world of ‘legit’ football. Do we consider Dion Dublin stepping down when he was covering the Women’s World Cup?

Women’s football though the same sport is its own entity. Everything runs in parallel and success in one sport is comparable in the other. Winning the Champions League regardless of the gender marker on your driver’s license is a huge deal.  Winning, whatever league your team is in, is a huge deal. The only thing that is heightened is the prize money between the two sports. Thus there is no step up or down when crossing the gender divide. I look forward to the day we have women managers on the regular in the male leagues. A couple of European Clubs have done so with Corinne Diacre taking the reigns at Clermont Foot with moderate success.

To honest a lot of former players want to become managers and very few are truly successful at it. So the pool of talent to help you pull you up by your bootstraps. The only step up for managers, male or female is just that. Stepping up to become managers and working their way up the totem pole. To Wrexham, you would be lucky to get someone like Casey Stoney in charge and I always preferred Shrewsbury Town anyway!

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