Manchester United head coach Casey Stoney says her decision to step down is “the right choice for the right reasons” after her final game in charge on Sunday.
It wasn’t the way she wanted it to end, with the Red Devils knocked out of the Women’s FA Cup just a few days after the news was announced. Recently-promoted Leicester City came from behind twice to win 3-2 in a thrilling game, sending them into the quarter-finals of the competition for a second successive season.
The Telegraph reported earlier this week that unhappiness with the training conditions at had influenced Stoney’s decision, but the 39-year-old said after Sunday’s match that she believes the club will provide the team with the resources they need to take the next step.
What has been said?
“Like I said before, I see that as a personal failure that I didn't [secure UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification],” Stoney said.
Stoney continued: “The players need good resources, they need backing and I know the club is going to do that. I believe this team has a bright future. I know the summer window will be exciting, because I've done all the work. It's a massively exciting time. I will be their biggest supporter moving forward.
“It's been really tough [this week]. Even delivering the message to my staff and players is very difficult because I've built relationships with these people and I deeply care about all of them and I feel like I'm letting them down, but it was the right choice for the right reasons.
“It's been an emotional four days and I take responsibility for this loss, because it's probably my news that's impacted it, but they fight for me every single week and that was no different today. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get the goal that we needed.
“[Today was a] summary of our season: missed chances, poor goals conceded. I thought we were in complete control, [at] 1-0 - even at 2-1, we're in complete control. Unfortunately, defensive errors really cost us and not putting our chances away.
"It's not the way I would have want to end, not for a selfish reason, but because I wanted this club to be in the FA Cup. That's always what I want, to push things forward.”
Where will Stoney go next?
The former England defender has been linked with a number of jobs since the news of her departure broke.
NWSL side Portland Thorns are one of those, with their head coach, Mark Parsons, reported to be taking charge of the Netherlands women’s national team later this year.
There have also been reports linking her with a job with San Diego, the new NWSL expansion team where former U.S. women’s national team head coach, Jill Ellis, is working.
“I know I'm getting linked with all the jobs under the sun, but right now, it's about my family,” Stoney said at the weekend.
“Probably a little bit of time for myself, too. I've got quite a lot to sort out here to make sure that I leave it in the best place possible before I step away. I'll have a rest, I'll recalibrate, but this game is my life so I can't see myself stepping away.
“This time will be about [my family], making sure that they have me for as long as they can have me because I will need to get a job! I've got a mortgage to pay, three children to feed and a home to keep.
“It's about recalibrating for myself, refocusing for myself, working out what's next really, to be honest, because I still feel like I've got so much to give this game. I've got so much to learn.”