Manchester United women’s coach Casey Stoney believes the club has the ability to change the women’s game forever.
It was announced in May that the club, amid criticism for not forming a women’s team earlier, had a license to join the second tier of the WSL.
Casey, a former England defender and captain who made 130 appearances for the national team, was appointed coach of the side last month.
Speaking in an interview earlier this week, Stoney enthused about how Man United’s entrance into the women’s arena has the potential to significantly grow the game.
“I can honestly sit here and tell you that I’ve never been at a club where the level of detail and standards are so high,” she said.
“They want the team to be successful and they want the players to have the best opportunity to be able to develop.”
“United got in because their bid was good, very good. They didn’t get in at the expense of anyone else, other teams didn’t get in because their bids weren’t good enough.
“Why would you not want Man United to have a women’s team? With the fanbase, the global reach, the way the club do things and the potential to grow the game? It is a no-brainer.”
“The club have trusted me to know the women’s game better than they know the women’s game. I know every player in this league, every player in the league below, internationally I know a lot of players too and I like to think I’ve got a good relationship with a lot of them. It means players are signing for me, as well as all signing for the club.”
The women’s game has without doubt progressed remarkably over the last few years. England’s 2015 World Cup campaign, during which they reached the semi-finals, stimulated interest in the game. The World Cup next year promises to do the same.
But while recognition and interest is certainly there, women’s football still has the feeling of existing on the periphery of the wider slew of this country’s – and indeed the world’s – footballing culture.
This is where United could play a huge role: to export women’s football around the world like never before, to create a women’s team which embodies the characteristics of the club, and in the process engage millions of United fans all over the world.