I’d like to see a female manager in men’s game… but we’re not there yet
NEWS of Emma Hayes’ departure from Chelsea at the end of the season has reignited the frankly needless debate about whether a female manager should be given an opportunity in the men’s game. It’s certainly something we’re building towards and I envisage a day when it becomes reality, but we’re not there yet.
The prospect shouldn’t be met with resistance by men who feel challenged by it, but the counter-argument is that too many times in society people have been trying to lever people into jobs on the back of foisting an agenda on everyone. Emma has done very well in the space and level she’s working in. She’s operated with the best in class and her outcomes have been best in class but that doesn’t mean it will translate. The dynamic of managing in constant full stadiums, with febrile atmospheres, huge expectations, scant tolerance and broadcast audiences around the world are very different from what managers in the women’s game have experienced.
People will say coaching is coaching but the manner in which you communicate with people, the manner in which people can relate to you, interact with you and the pressure, exposure and attention the men’s game garners is very different. It’s a false equivalence to suggest a woman can just take her coaching skills into the men’s environment. If you’re able to manage in League One, it doesn’t mean you’re able to manage in the Premier League. There has been talk in the past about the Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman moving across to the men’s game, but why does she need to be taken out of the women’s game? It needs to be developed and enhanced. If we really want to grow the women’s game, it doesn’t seem right that the men’s game would just come along and pinch the best they have to offer.
I didn’t like having Phil Neville or Mark Sampson as manager of the England women’s team, either. As the women’s game grows, the people within it should be the people it represents. If there were a female manager that was good enough then I would like to see it one day but someone’s got to be prepared to do it for the right reasons and not for political expediency or correctness. We’re not there yet.