With the long-term managerial fate of the Lionesses still up in the air, Nancy Frostick reveals who she believes are the top three candidates under consideration.
There’s nothing like a managerial vacancy at St George’s Park to generate interesting, comical and sometimes outrageous speculations of prospective candidates for the job. Betting companies produced all manner of suggestions for the England women’s national team managerial vacancy following Mark Sampson’s sacking in September – ranging from reasonable (Emma Hayes), the unlikely (Hope Powell), to the inappropriate (William Hill briefly offered 25/1 odds on the late Tony DiCicco).
The fact remains, however, that England’s Lionesses are still on the hunt for a new boss willing to step into the eye of the storm in the national team’s most turbulent period in recent history. Unless the FA need longer to deliberate, caretaker manager Mo Marley’s time in charge will come to an end after England’s World Cup qualifying matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan on 24 and 28 November respectively.
So with a number of leading candidates ruling themselves out in the last few months, who are the top three currently in the running to take the helm?
Harvey has just stepped away from her role as head coach of NWSL outfit Seattle Reign amid speculation that she is destined to take up a national team role. The big question is with which national team, as both England and the United States are said to be interested. Reports from the US suggest that she is set for the USWNT setup as successor-in-waiting to Jill Ellis, however the timing of her departure from the two-time NWSL champions hints that she could be headed home.
If the former Arsenal and Birmingham City manager is seriously considering England, the FA would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable candidate. Harvey’s success at club level has led to a swathe of silverware during her managerial career – four league titles, three league cups and two FA cups in England as well as two NWSL shields is quite the haul. What’s more, she is familiar with many of the Lionesses and has a reputation for building a good team culture.
The Manchester City manager has been a front-runner since the search for Sampson’s replacement began. Already familiar with the bulk of the Lionesses thanks to City’s English core, Cushing has been hugely successful domestically in the last few seasons.
His style of football would be suited to international tournaments. Whilst City are offensively effective, if things don’t go their way Cushing always has a backup plan. Looking back on the Euro 2017 defeat to the Netherlands, it is clear that the Lionesses lacked a plan B, so appointing a manager who seems to always finds a way to win might be the difference at the 2019 World Cup.
It’s worth noting that Cushing has stated he is focussed on Manchester City, so leaving in the middle of the campaign would be a surprise, especially with elusive the Champions League still to play for.
One of the most qualified candidates, the current caretaker manager has been in charge of England’s Under-19s since 2001, so knows the setup and the players well. Marley is well respected and gave most of the Lionesses their England debuts at youth level as well as previously managing Everton. It would be a welcome reward to appoint a coach that has had such a defining impact on so many careers and on women’s football.
After the men’s senior team had their own problems following Sam Allardyce’s dismissal, the FA’s decision to look within the organisation and give Gareth Southgate the job seems to have steadied the ship – they may well follow suit with the Lionesses.
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