10 Years of the Women’s Super League – Meet the Female Head Coaches

With the Women’s Super League (the professional women’s football league in England) celebrating it’s 10th year (2021), we thought we’d take a look back over the history of the leagues female head coaches.

The WSL has hosted some of the most prominent and influential female football coaches in the sports history – with the first women to ever achieve UEFA Pro License (Hope Powell), the woman behind the development of a high proportion of the players reaching national and international success (Mo Marley) and the most successful club manager in history (Emma Hayes) – it’s been a league paving the way for women in football.

There have been 16 teams in the top WSL league over the last 10 years – with 50 managers in total (as of April 2021), 20 of those managers being women, that’s 40%.

Here is the full list of women:

Carla Ward – Birmingham City (2020 – )

Tanya Oxtoby – Bristol City (2018 – )

Hope Powell – Brighton and Hove Albion (2017 – )

Rehanne Skinner – Tottenham (2020 – )

Mo Marley – Everton (2002 – 2012)

Kelly Chambers – Reading (2015 -)

Jayne Ludlow – Reading (2013 – 2014)

Casey Stoney – Manchester United (2018 – )

Laura Harvey – Arsenal (2010 – 2013)

Shelley Kerr – Arsenal (2013 – 2014)

Emma Hayes – Chelsea (2012 – )

Vickie Jepson – Liverpool (2018 -2021)

Marta Tejedor – Birmingham City (2019 – 2020)

Nicola Anderson – Everton (2015) interim

Jennifer Herst – Everton (2018) interim

Gemma Davies – Aston Villa (2019 – 2020)

Melanie Copeland – Sunderland (2017 – )

Sarah Lawler – Yeovil Town (2011 – 2019) join management

Karen Mills – Tottenham (2011 – 2020) joint management

Casey Stoney – Manchester United (2018 – )

Emma Coates – Yeovil Town (2011-2014)

If anyone spots any mistakes – please get in touch: info@femalecoachingnetwork.com

Below are biographies of some of the most prominent and influential coaches in the leagues history:

Mo Marley, Everton (2002 – 2012)

Mo Marley MBE is an English football manager and former player. She most recently managed the England women’s national under-21 football team. As a player, Mo was a centre back, who captained both the England women’s national football team and Everton, turning out 41 times for England between 1995 and 2001.

Mo had a 24-year association with Everton, joining the club in their former incarnation as Leasowe Pacific in 1988. She won the 1989 Women’s FA Cup and captained the team to the FA Women’s Premier League title in 1997–98. After taking over as manager in 2002 — sacking her husband to do so — she led Everton to the 2008 FA Women’s Premier League Cup and the 2010 FA Women’s Cup. Marley led Everton into the UEFA Women’s Champions League on three occasions, before standing down as manager in October 2012.

Mo stopped playing and took over as manager of Everton Ladies in the 2002 close season, having previously been the Girls and Women’s Football Development Officer for Merseyside. She had taken up her role as head coach of England Under-19s in November 2001, while still playing for Everton.  She guided Everton to their FA Women’s Premier League Cup win in 2008 and FA Women’s Cup win in 2010.

Mo became only the second woman in England, after Hope Powell, to be awarded the UEFA Pro Licence.

In July 2009, she coached the England Under-19s side to victory in the Uefa Women’s Under-19 Championship.  Mo stood down as Everton manager in October 2012, to focus on her job at the Football Association (FA).

In September 2017, she was named as the interim manager of the England women’s national football team. In October 2018, she was appointed the permanent manager of the newly resurrected England under-21 women’s team. She stood down from the role in October 2020.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Laura Harvey, Arsenal (2010 – 2013)

Laura Harvey is an English professional women’s football coach and former player. Currently the head coach of United States women’s national under-20 soccer team, she previously managed Utah Royals FCSeattle Reign FCArsenal, and Birmingham City. She was also involved with the youth set-up of England. Laura was named FAWSL Coach of the Year in 2011 after guiding Arsenal to win the league title, FA Cup, and Continental Cup. She was named NWSL Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

n 2008, Harvey joined Arsenal L.F.C. as its first team coach. The following year, she was hired full-time as Assistant Academy Director and Reserve Team Manager.[8]Harvey (top left) with the Arsenal LFC in 2011

In February 2010, Harvey was hired to replace Tony Gervaise as manager for the Arsenal L.F.C.. Of her hiring, Harvey said, “It’s a really proud moment for me. In women’s football, especially domestically, it doesn’t come any bigger than Arsenal. When you set out to coach and you know this is your dream and your love, you want to make it the best it can possibly be and in my eyes it doesn’t get much bigger than this.”

In 2011, Harvey was named FAWSL coach of the year after guiding the team to win the league title, FA Cup, and Continental Cup. She finished her tenure with Arsenal in 2012 having led the team to three consecutive league titles, two Continental Cups, and one FA Women’s Cup.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Hope Powell, Brighton & Hove Albion (2017- )

Hope PowellCBE  is an English former international footballer and women’s first-team manager of Brighton & Hove Albion. She was the coach of the England women’s national football team and the Great Britain women’s Olympic football team until August 2013. As a player, Powell won 66 caps for England, mainly as an attacking midfielder, scoring 35 goals. She made her England debut at the age of 16, and went on to play in the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup, England’s first World Cup appearance. She was also vice-captain of her country. At club level Powell played in four FA Women’s Cup finals and captained Croydon to a League and Cup double in 1996.

The Football Association (FA) appointed Powell as England’s first-ever full-time national coach in 1998. She led the team at the 200120052009 and 2013 editions of the UEFA Women’s Championship. After failing to qualify in 2003, she guided England to the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2007 and 2011. England’s best results, reaching the final of the UEFA Women’s Championship in 1984 and 2009, both featured Powell. She was a player at the former and coach at the latter.

As well as managing the England senior team, Powell oversaw the whole structure from Under-15s to the Under-23s, a coach mentoring scheme and The FA’s National Player Development Centre at Loughborough University. In May 2009 Powell’s administration implemented central contracts, to help players focus on full-time training and playing, without having to fit it around full-time employment. Initially 17 players signed contracts. In 2003 Powell became the first woman to achieve the UEFA Pro Licence—the highest coaching qualification available.

On 19 July 2017, Brighton & Hove Albion announced that Powell had been appointed as first-team manager of the club’s women’s team.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Emma Hayes, Chelsea (2012 – )

Emma Hayes was appointed manager in August 2012, replacing Matt Beard after his three years in charge, and succeeding in leading the team to Women’s FA Cup for the first time in 2015, quickly following it with the Women’s Super League title to complete a historic and memorable double. She was the only female manager in that league at that stage and the previous season her side had finished close runners-up, thereby qualifying for the Women’s Champions League for the first time.

Having won the Spring Series in 2017, Hayes’ side completed a second domestic Double of Women’s FA Cup and WSL title in 2018. We also reached the semi-final of the Champions League for a second time.  

Hayes’s career in management spans over a decade and she earned huge plaudits after leaving her native North London for successful spells in America.

Hayes joined W-League side the Long Island Lady Riders in 2001, for a two-year spell during which she was the youngest female head coach in W-League in history. She scooped the National Coach of the Year award in 2002.

This was followed by a spell at Iona College, where Hayes collected another individual honour, being named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Coach of the Year in 2004, before leading her side to the 2004/05 MAAC Conference Championships. She returned to English football in 2006.

Hayes served as assistant first team coach at Arsenal Ladies, as the Gunners achieved unprecedented success, winning 11 major trophies during a three-season spell in north London, including three Women’s Premier League titles, three FA Women’s Cups and the UEFA Women’s Cup crown. Her role in the Arsenal backroom staff was combined with her position as Academy director, overseeing the development of young players at the club, many of whom currently feature in the Women’s Super League.

After a trophy-laden spell in north London, Hayes headed Stateside once again in 2008, holding a series of managerial positions at clubs in the Women’s Professional League, beginning with a spell at Chicago Red Stars. Her time in Chicago as head coach saw her assemble a squad of US internationals and established European names, combined with the cream of American college soccer talent. She was also director of soccer operations, building the club infrastructure into a sustainable, professional franchise before her departure in 2010.

After spells as a coaching consultant at Washington Freedom and technical director at New York Flash, Hayes returned to the UK in 2011.

Hayes was made an MBE in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours list in June 2016 and was presented with it the following December.

She promptly led Chelsea to another trophy, the WSL Spring Series title in the first half of 2017, and in October that year she signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract. In May 2018, just as the Double was being completed, she gave birth to a son. 

Further silverware followed in 2020 as the Blues clinched the Continental Tyres League Cup and were crowned the Barclays FA Women’s Super League champions. Although the league ended prematurely due to COVID-19, it was decided by the FA that Hayes’ undefeated side were winners, based on a points-per-game system.

Hayes, who has now completed her seventh season at Chelsea, was named the 2019/20 the WSL Manager of the Season after guiding the Blues to a brilliant unbeaten domestic campaign of 12 victories and three draws.

SOURCE: Chelsea FC

Casey Stoney – Manchester United (2018 – )

From a playing career spanning 20 years, to becoming the first head coach of the new Manchester United Women’s team in June 2018, Casey Stoney has overseen a sea change in women’s football.

Born in Basildon, Stoney was signed for Chelsea’s women’s team in 1994, aged just 12. Stoney’s talent at club level was immediately noticed and she made her senior debut for the England national team against France in 2000, aged just 18.

Stoney became the fifth player to make over 100 appearances for the Lionesses, making a total of 130 appearances by the time of her retirement. A captain for the England women’s team, Stoney played an integral part in the Lionesses’ rise up the world rankings, with a third-place finish in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup being one of the highlights.

The defender led Team GB to the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games, scoring in the second group-stage match against Cameroon and leading her side to a memorable 1-0 victory against Brazil in front of over 72,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Stoney received an MBE for services to football in 2015, highlighting how far the women’s game had progressed in England.

With 130 appearances at international level, a playing career spanning nearly twenty years and coaching stints with Chelsea Ladies and the Lionesses, Stoney headed into her Manchester United Women tenure with plenty of experience. That stood her in good stead throughout the team’s inaugural season, 2018/19, as the Reds won the FA Women’s Championship title and were therefore promoted to the Women’s Super League at the first attempt.

Just a few months into the 2019/20 WSL season, it was announced that Casey had agreed a new contract with United, with the intention of keeping her at the club until at least 2022. In a statement to announce this on 8 November 2019, the head coach commented: “I am extremely proud to be involved with Manchester United and I’m honoured to be head coach of such an incredibly hard-working and talented team. I’d like to thank the club for the fantastic support they have given me since we started this journey and for the trust in what we are building here.”

SOURCE: Manchester United Website