With just over seven months until the Women’s Football Olympics tournament kicks off and the Team GB managerial role vacant, we take a look at who deserves to be the team’s manager.
This tournament marks Team Great Britain’s first entry into Olympics’ Women Football since entering the 2012 Summer Olympics as the host team.
Now with seven months to go, no manager has been appointed and one leading contender is set to depart their role ahead of tournament, whilst the second frontrunner resigned as Scotland’s manager during the festive period.
We therefore take a look at those who should be in contention to take on the Team GB managerial role heading into the Olympics.
Having secured Team GB’s Olympic qualification by virtue of guiding England to the last four at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, Phil Neville is definitely amongst the frontrunners but he is set to leave his role just before the tournament commences.
Now the simple solution would be to extend his contract slightly to enable him to take charge in Tokyo but following his comments concerning a return to men’s football, I wonder if Neville’s heart is in it to manage Team GB given that he is currently only in post until Sarina Wiegman takes over in September.
Neville however is the man responsible for securing qualification and would therefore make sense for him to complete the journey by managing the team this summer, yet has guided England to just three wins in their last 11 matches across all competitions.
That form combined with his plans once he departs the role though is surely a sticking point in the English FA justifying him as manager, especially when Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland players could be selected for the squad and thus associated with the potential of a disastrous campaign.
Either way, naming Neville as manager could be a huge risk when his heart is clearly in men’s football moving forward as demonstrated by rumours linking him to Inter Miami.
Ex Scotland Women’s manager, Shelley Kerr is another contender given her experience in the game but given that she recently failed to guide Scotland to UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, it would be difficult to justify Kerr taking charge of Team GB.
Kerr however spoke in her resignation announcement from the Scottish FA on Xmas Eve of looking “ahead to the next chapter, to face new challenges and to create and enjoy more amazing experiences on my journey.”
This managerial role however would only be a short-term role and based on that quote, it feels like she is looking for a long-term project which the English FA won’t offer her given that Wiegman is replacing Neville in the autumn.
Either way, the Team GB role is short-term and Kerr’s availability is timely because she could begin detailed planning in terms of training camp and squad scouting without distractions.
If a current National Team manager is preferred then Wales’ Jayne Ludlow certainly be a top bet because although she is yet to lead Wales to a major tournament, she is the best-placed manager who definitely has the heart to aim for success at this tournament.
Ludlow also often provides commentary and analyst on BBC’s Women’s Super League (WSL), so will be known to players across all four home nations who play in the WSL and therefore best placed to understand the quality of individuals who could be selected for Team GB.
No Welsh players though were selected in the 2012 squad which might make Wales’ FA reluctant to let Ludlow take charge of the team, although all four nations have evolved since that tournament with plenty of quality players across all four teams worthy of a proper blended Team GB squad.
I however feel that if Team GB are to mount a proper challenge at the Olympics, we need a quality manager in charge and Ludlow currently fits that bill given Neville and Kerr’s situations despite her own shortcomings in terms of success as Wales manager.
Should none of the national team managers be suitable then perhaps Casey Stoney should be considered, especially given her previous experience as Neville’s assistant manager before linking up with Manchester United Women, where she has guided the Women’s team to the WSL summit.
Stoney though possesses the ability to manage expectations because although the aim is always to win, she has been able to keep her Man Utd team grounded in terms of expectations despite sitting top of the WSL, whilst delivering exciting attacking football which is what Team GB fans will want to see.
Managing Team GB though would be a huge task compared to club football but if there is one manager who is capable of making the short-term transition, it has to be Stoney and her experience of managing players of different nationalities would benefit her in cross selection of players across all home nations.
Should the FA want an experienced club manager to take charge of Team GB, Emma Hayes definitely deserves a shot.
Hayes since arriving at Chelsea in 2012 has overseen a massive evolution within the Blues to turn them from mid-table challengers to serious title contenders on several fronts, whilst also retaining home nation players as the squad’s core despite adding international experience.
Now after nearly nine years in charge of the Blues with eight trophies in five different competitions and Team GB needing an successfully experienced and strong player management across nationalities, Hayes feels like the ideal candidate for this short task and could only benefit Chelsea in long-term too.
Hayes though lack international experience in management unlike Stoney which is a factor that goes against her, unless able to get Hayes and Stoney in as joint managers to create something different to that of other competing countries.