The Manchester United Women’s manager, Casey Stoney, does not believe a female coach has a chance of taking charge of a senior men’s side “in her lifetime”.
Stoney will emulate numerous Premier League managers when she takes her place in the Etihad Stadium dugout next Saturday for the club’s FA WSL debut against Manchester City in front of an expected 25,000-plus crowd.
However, the 130-cap former England international accepts that even taking into account the rapid development of the women’s game there is little chance of her or her contemporaries making a breakthrough into the men’s game.
It has happened in France, with Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot becoming the first to appoint a woman in Helena Costa, while current France women’s manager Corinne Diacre was in charge between 2014 and 2017.
However, Stoney believes such a crossover in the English game will not happen for a long time. “I can’t see it in my lifetime. I think society isn’t even ready for it let alone football and football is behind society,” she said.
“I can’t see it because I think you would have to be 10 times as good and if you lost a game it would be because you were a woman and not because you hadn’t got your game-plan right or that your goalkeeper has made an error.
“I don’t think women are seen in society as equal yet so until women in society are seen as equal we are never going to be able to do that.
“Obviously it happened in France and Emma Hayes [Chelsea Women’s manager] and Hope Powell [former England Women’s coach] were linked but normally it is a PR stunt.
“I just think if you are good, you are good. We have enough average male coaches in the women’s game.
“I think it might be breaking ground as an assistant coach at a club or working in the coaching system of a men’s first team because that hasn’t even happened yet let alone being the actual figurehead.
“There might be other ways a person can work almost behind the scenes and still do a fantastic job without having the pressure of ‘You’ve lost a game because you are a woman’.”
Stoney, who won the FA Women’s Championship last season in the club’s first year of existence, admits she still encounters sexism within the current coaching system.
“When I walk through the door at a coaching course with a man automatically he has respect on that course because he is a bloke. I have to spend the next four or five days earning it,” she added. “It is not until you actually go on the grass and you are joining in the practical and you fizz one and [the reaction is]: ‘Bloody hell.’
“Then all of a sudden you have earned respect because you can play - it doesn’t mean I’m a good coach. That is what I have found difficult. For me I relish that because I’m like: ‘I’ll prove you wrong.’ I was like that as a player and I’m like that as a coach.”