Konchesky remaining in charge next season would be proof West Ham are more interested in jobs for the boys than football for the girls

Narrowly dodging a relegation battle thanks to a new manager bounce way back in October, this season’s dogfight should serve as a warning for the Hammers to sack while they’re ahead. They must do their due diligence on managers next time to avoid another wasted opportunity for their women’s team, writes Jessy Parker Humphreys.

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Paul Konchesky’s debut weeks in professional football management got off to a pretty good start. Of West Ham’s opening five matches of the season, he won three, losing only to Manchester United and Chelsea during that time. Despite his significant inexperience, it seemed that West Ham’s bet on bringing in a club legend to replace Olli Harder, who had departed at the end of the previous season, had paid off.

By the end of October with nine points on the board, West Ham had all but guaranteed their safety in the division, such was the woeful form of the teams around them. Since then, Konchesky has won just twice in the WSL and West Ham are currently on a nine-game streak without a victory.

Twice in the past month, they have not had a single shot on target during a game – and not against the bigger clubs, but against Brighton and Liverpool. For large portions of the season, their expected goal differential (the average difference between their expected goals and expected goals conceded total) has been the worst in the league. It is currently third worst at -0.9, on par with Leicester’s -0.92.

None of this has really mattered because of those early points gained. With four teams contriving to somehow be worse than West Ham, there has never been any serious threat of them getting sucked into the relegation battle. But if things continue as they have, then it is hard to imagine West Ham lucking out in the same way next year.

That is partly due to how the teams around them have dealt with their own poor form. Willie Kirk’s appointment as Leicester manager following Lydia Bedford’s sacking has been a revelation with it looking like Leicester will do the seemingly impossible and avoid relegation, despite not picking up a single point in the season until 2023.

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Similarly at Brighton, following a failed entanglement with Jens Scheuer, Melissa Phillips has come in and immediately transformed them. They have picked up seven points in their last five matches, putting them joint fifth in the form table over that period. It has been noticeable how quickly Phillips has been able to implement a structure that has freed Brighton’s young attacking talents whilst giving them increased defensive stability.

Neither Leicester nor Brighton have a significantly more talented squad than West Ham, and the recent improvement in both of these teams’ performances should only serve to highlight how much West Ham have stagnated under Konchesky.

The prospect of starting next season with him in charge is unfathomable. It seems unlikely that Tottenham will stick with Vicky Jepson, as any improvement since Rehanne Skinner’s departure feels more fairly attributable to Beth England than the manager. Given the money Spurs have been willing to spend on their squad in combination with the facilities provided, one would assume it will be an attractive job come the summer.

If Reading were to go down, that would leave West Ham firmly bottom of the pile and at risk of getting into significant trouble fast, much like Leicester and Spurs did by sticking with Bedford and Skinner into this season. Both managers won only one of their eight final games of the season whilst apparently causing little to no concern.

There is also a broader question of why people with thin to negligible CVs continue to be appointed into coaching roles within the WSL. Konchesky had spent a year as an assistant at West Ham before becoming head coach having previously been an assistant at Billericay Town, a team in the seventh tier of English men’s football, for four months.

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It seems no coincidence that someone like Konchesky was appointed as manager at a club which is the only team in the WSL not to have played a single match this season at their men’s stadium. But West Ham are not the only team who appear disinterested in doing their due diligence, as Brighton’s dalliance with Scheuer and Everton’s last season with Jean-Luc Vasseur has shown – although at least in both those cases, they had prior managerial achievements.

Ultimately, even though West Ham are not going to be relegated, this season feels like a waste. The mood within the squad is clearly down, there has been no noticeable development of younger players (perhaps neatly summed up by the fact that Lucy Parker, called up to England on the basis of her defensive performances, has been used in midfield), and presumably some will be looking for the exit door.

But the proof about whether this matters to the club or not will be shown in whether Konchesky stays in his job. If he is on the touchline at the start of next season, it is safe to assume that West Ham are more interested in jobs for the boys than football for the girls.

Follow Jessy on Twitter @jessyjph

Our journalism is supported by Foudys as part of its commitment to backing female and non-binary football writers.

1 Comment on Konchesky remaining in charge next season would be proof West Ham are more interested in jobs for the boys than football for the girls

  1. Robin Aldred // May 14, 2023 at 10:16 am // Reply

    I have been saying this since pre season when West Ham were losing to championship sides. Some people are saying it’s on the players but that surely can’t be the case given that the squad is packed full of senior and age group international players, and players that have won multiple league titles across multiple International leagues.

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