To be the manager/coach of any team at the highest level is close to remarkable. Hope Powell England’s women’s football coach was given a golden handshake just over a week ago after 19 years in charge.
Her tenure came to an end after her England team crashed out of Euro 2013. England were in a perceived weak group, qualification was the minimum expectation for a team ranked fourth in Europe. Out went England with the worst record of any side in the tournament. They suffered a 3-0 defeat to a France team who had already qualified followed England’s first defeat to Spain in 17 years and a 1-1 draw with Russia; the first point won by Russia at this level.
Powell who has been arguably the most influential person in women’s football in England was determined not to step down after these results. It was felt however that she had been there long enough. Many however felt too long.
Powell was a highly respected player, and it cannot be denied that she has transformed the standing and professionalism of the women’s team at all levels. This was her 15th year in charge during which time England, from a possible eight tournaments, have reached two World Cup quarter-finals and one European Championship final, in 2009. The FA felt that they had spent too much money with not an adequate return.
Some say that her at times aggressive personality may have helped when demanding resources from the FA, but may have been counter-productive in the dressing room; even though she had a reputation for helping players in distress.
She may be disappointed that her tenure has come to an end but the word is a new chapter is about to start for Hope Powell. It is believed that she has been offered a number of positions as a coach of non-league teams in the UK as well as a coaching role at a football league club, which would see her as the first woman to take on such a role. It would be a great step forward for the women’s game and shows the respect in which she is held. Saying that she has yet to make a decision.
For fans of the women’s game her next move could be a giant leap forward for all who follow.