By Unnati Naidu
Manchester United Women's team compete in the top tier English women's football, the Women's Super League, after gaining promotion from the Championship at the end of the 2018-19 season. Quickly working their way up after the rise with the help of manager Casey Stoney, they saw themselves end in the 4th spot at the end of the 2020-21 season in the league.
They started their season at a high after drawing their first game against Chelsea, the current league champions. With victories over Arsenal and a draw against Manchester City in the derby and having the first spot in the league table, the winning streak continued. After the Christmas break, they again faced Chelsea in an away game where they lost 1-2 to Chelsea. Things started to turn against Reading, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Brighton thsecond time, ending up at the 4th spot on the league table. Seemingly good for a newly promoted team?
Casey Stoney startled her players by announcing her resignation as manager. The former England star sought to resign many weeks ago, and the club constantly tried to persuade her to stay. It is believed that tensions between the manager and the club had been growing for some time and that training facilities were a contributing factor. Frustration at United's Carrington-based training facilities caused Stoney to depart and not qualify for a Champions League next season. According to The Mail, players could not shower between workouts and meals before the improvisation portacabins were installed. At the same time, the closest toilets are a 10-minute walk away from their training facility. The team's likewise housed their gym in a tented structure. United said in 2018 that they would enhance facilities for the women's team at The Cliff, the previous men's team training facility; however, this has not occurred.
The Women's team braced for an exodus of players after the departure of manager Casey Stoney. Manchester United announced that the American duo Tobin Heath and Christen Press would be returning to the United States. Striker Lauren James has been linked with Chelsea, and a few players have already confirmed departure from the club (Jess Sigworth, Amy Turner, and Jane Ross).
There is also dissatisfaction with the club's refusal to accommodate them at Carrington on a full-time basis. According to one insider, a transfer to Carrington is the "million-dollar question," but a permanent relocation is not expected for at least another year, if not more. Owner Joe Glazer has clarified that the long-term intention is to be for a fully integrated approach to the training ground, including men's team, women's team, and academy.
Another prominent English club, Liverpool, has been criticised by the supporters and its women's team players for not adequately investing in the women's team relegated in the 2020 season. The players recently reported that the club retracted their contracts after being sent to their agents without contacting them. The club has also faced an exodus of 5 players leaving the club at the end of the season. With recently appointed manager Matt Beard, Liverpool looks to make a comeback next season and hopes to be promoted to the Women's Super League once again. It's going to be a tough challenge for Matt Beard, considering he might have to rebuild the team and work with limited finances.
Liverpool's women were hardly paid salaries commensurate with their status as elite athletes. Until a former coach complained, they had been housed in substandard accommodations. Only ten staff members were considered full-time employees in a year when the club as a whole had reported record revenue, as well as a record profit as reported in 2020 by Forbes. The club's consistent argument that more investment will come if it generates more for the women's team has led to under-investment and relegation. In the case of Liverpool, they have a new coach, new talented players joining the team, and their goal of gaining promotion to the WSL is in the works. Whereas for United, appointing a new coach to lead the United team will be a priority, a squad rebuild may also be necessary if key players depart. But the question now arises: will United successfully overcome this situation they are in right now, or will they be another team that ends up on the same path as Liverpool?
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