Stoney not ready to try managing men’s team

Manchester United Women boss Casey Stoney believes it will be many more years before she would consider a risky move into coaching a men’s team.

The 36-year-old former England captain feels not only would attitudes have to change, but that she would need to be financially secure before taking a job she claims would have an average tenure of just over a year.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Offside Rule Exclusives podcast, she has also talked frankly about the bullying she endured while playing football as a child, and about publicly coming out as gay.

Casey Stoney was appointed as Manchester United’s Women boss last summer (Nick Potts/PA).
Casey Stoney was appointed Manchester United Women boss last summer (Nick Potts/PA)

On the possibility of coaching a men’s team, Stoney said: “It (attitudes) would be a huge barrier to change.

“Would I leave Manchester United? No. Would I go into men’s football when you’ve got an average tenure of (just) over a year, with three children to support? No.

“You’ve got no stability, things change things so quickly.

“For me, I would love to be here (at United) for many more years and then maybe if I’m financially secure, then I’d take the risk.”

Stoney played 130 times for England and went to three World Cups (Nick Potts/PA).
Stoney played 130 times for England and went to three World Cups (Nick Potts/PA)

Stoney took charge of United’s new team last summer following a short spell as part of England boss Phil Neville’s coaching staff, and the club are currently second in the Women’s Championship. The former Arsenal and Liverpool defender won 130 caps and played at three World Cups.

Her former England team-mates Rachel Brown-Finnis and Alex Scott have recently spoken publicly about negative attitudes towards them as pundits for men’s games.

Stoney feels such criticism says a lot about society with regard to sexism.

“I watch a lot of punditry and see Rachel Brown-Finnis and Alex Scott – Alex is doing really well for herself,” Stoney said.

“They get stick because they’re challenging the norms and that’s a good thing. But it says a lot about society and where society still is.

“These people who are saying these things have mothers, sisters, daughters. You should be treating them equally with respect and dignity and giving them a platform to rise.

“These people aren’t taking anyone’s places, they’re just doing their job and if they do it well, they keep their job.

“I’m by no means a person that says a woman should get a job because they are a woman. It has to be the best person for the job.”

Stoney endured bullying while playing football as a child (Clint Hughes/PA).
Stoney endured bullying while playing football as a child (Clint Hughes/PA)

The bullying Stoney experienced when she was growing up saw her labelled “a tomboy, a man, a boy, constantly”.

She said: “I used to try and dress differently to prove I wasn’t – I wore heels and short skirts but that wasn’t really me.

“I’ve seen parents do it while I’ve been a player and a coach. When I played in the boys’ team, that’s when I got the most stick from parents, saying I shouldn’t be playing and it was a disgrace.

“Parents would tell their children to take me out, hit me hard. But I was talented, so I was going against the norm and the social stereotypes and what they believe in.

The former defender (right) came out as gay in 2014 (Nick Potts/PA).
Former defender Stoney, right, publicly came out as gay in 2014 (Nick Potts/PA)

“It was awful at times, horrendous. And when you’re 10, 11 or 12 and you don’t know who you are and you’re trying to fit in and find your identity, and you’re getting bullied for the one thing you’re good at, it’s really confusing. It’s really upsetting.”

Stoney publicly came out as gay in 2014, something she has stressed “needs to be your decision”.

And she added: “When we talk about it in the men’s game, it needs to not be a story for people to be comfortable to do it. Unfortunately, no one has felt brave enough or felt the need to do it. Some might be happy with the way they are and don’t want it to affect their lives. They don’t want the media attention.

“At the time (she publicly came out) I was England captain and I had the ability to make a positive impact by doing it. But now I’m just a football manager and mum.”

Stoney's United are second in the Women's Championship (Nick Potts/PA).
Stoney’s United are second in the Women’s Championship (Nick Potts/PA)

Meanwhile, Stoney has had her say on the recent switch of the women’s season in England from summer to winter.

“The attendance figures will say it’s working because Manchester United have come into the league and the figures have increased,” she said.

“If you take United out attendances would be down.

“I think sometimes the attendances are down because of the weather, games postponed because of it. It comes with its challenges but you don’t know until you try it.

“For me, it’s about investing in marketing and commercial to let people know when and where you’re playing to get people to the grounds.”

:: Listen to Casey Stoney’s full interview with The Offside Rule Exclusives on Acast

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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