Casey Stoney MBE has given her first interview since being announced as the first ever Manchester United Women’s head coach on Friday afternoon.
Man United had their application to launch a women’s team in March approved by the FA and will now enter the second tier of the Women’s Super League from the 2018-19 season under Stoney.
Speaking to MUTV after signing her deal as United Women’s boss, Stoney explained the range of reasons why she decided to leave Phil Neville’s England coaching staff to take up the role.
“Lots of different reasons, one being that you can’t hide away from the fact that Manchester United is the biggest club in the world.
“The fact that they are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, there is for me no more exciting opportunity.”
She pointed out that even though it’s a big challenge to start the team from scratch, she sees it as an opportunity to produce something exciting for not just United but the world of women’s football.
“I see it as a challenge, for me it’s an opportunity to form something, to create something, to mould a team your own way, to get the players in, coach them, work with them and create something from scratch – it is really exciting.
“I truly believe that Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”
The 36-year-old has bags of playing experience over a 19-year career where she’s played for clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, and has captained every single team she’s featured for, including Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.
“I’ve learnt so much throughout the years of playing, I’ve played 18 years of international football, I’ve been at so many different clubs under so many different coaches and managers.
“I’ve coached for 17 years because when I was growing up you had to have a job, so my job the whole time was coaching at the teams I was working at.
“So I’ve learnt so much, loads of positive experiences and the negatives, and even when you have negatives I feel that it’s an opportunity to learn. How would I have done it differently? And I won’t ever forget those lessons, good and bad I’ll take them with me on my journey.”
Since the rise of women’s football, talented female footballers have had to depart United to play at the highest level, and Stoney is thrilled that it won’t be the case anymore.
“Well you’ve changed it already by having a women’s team. That never has to happen again, you never have to lose a player because there wasn’t a pathway for them. The pathway is there now. I’m a big believer whether it’s an under-10, under-12, under-14, right the way through to seniors, the pathway should be visible.
“They should be able to see it, if they can see it they can believe in it and we give them the opportunity to achieve it and come be on the journey. An under-10 in 10 years time should be in the first-team at Manchester United.”
Stoney mentioned that it’s huge that the biggest team in the country has finally embraced the women’s game.
“It’s huge. It was the main reason I took the opportunity because I believe that Man United are going to do it properly, they’re going to invest in the women’s game, they have the opportunity to change the face of women’s football.
“It’s the biggest club in world – commercially marketing globally the brand, it’s exciting. The players are excited, the women’s game is excited and it’s a massive journey to go on, but an exciting one.”
She helped England Ladies to achieve their highest ever World Cup finish in 2015 and now hopes that the introduction of a United team can help the national team move forward.
“For me it’s going to be huge if we can produce players of the future that can go on and represent England. We want to leave the same legacy in the women’s game at Manchester United as the men’s game has left.”
The new team will train at the famous Cliffe Training Ground in Salford which will be up and running once redevelopment finishes this summer, and Stoney has described the location as a “dream come true”.
“Yeah definitely. I was actually fortune enough to work with Eric Harrison and he was a bit mental with me when I worked at the David Beckham Academy.
“He spoke about the amount of work that went on and the history there and the players that came out of there, so to be able to be part of that history. It’s a dream come true.”
To conclude the interview, Stoney was asked for her ambitions at United and what springs to mind when she thinks of the name.
“Winning. Success. Legacy. It’s the biggest club that I’ve ever been involved in and I’ve been involved with some big clubs. But to be able to be involved here and have a women’s team it’s just going to take women’s football to a whole new level.
“My ultimate aim is to grow this team so that every little girl growing up dreams when she’s older she wants to play for Manchester United, because they’re the most successful team in women’s football.”