Hope Powell’s position as the England women’s team coach, which has come under intense scrutiny since the dreadful showing and early exit from the European Championship finals in Sweden, may not be at immediate risk.
But the job she seemed destined for, a post that the Football Association have long talked about but are only now set to fill with the title Director of Elite Women’s Football, will not be hers, says the FA’s Director of Football, Sir Trevor Brooking.
Since the FA stated in 2008 that the position would be created by the end of 2009, Powell has more than once expressed her desire to take on the role. Having been the England coach for 15 years, in which time she has expanded the national team’s set-up from the paucity of a senior and one youth team to a structure including squads at five age-levels as well as the seniors – and been a prime mover in the elite club game’s switch to a summer format in the Super League – the 46-year-old coach and former midfielder seemed the perfect fit.
But even before the Euro 2013 disaster, Brooking had told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I see it slightly different to that. I’ve told Hope so she won’t be surprised with me saying that.
“I think the person’s got to be based at St George’s Park, I think they’ve got to be really out and about and also looking at those younger age groups – the 19’s, the 17’s, the 15’s and below that. How you develop those players is different to the senior and Under-21 levels. So we need a different type of person to bring forward those younger players.
“Of course, Hope’s going to be involved in everything that’s going on, but there’s so much focus on the top end of the game that I think that as the senior coach Hope won’t have to worry about anything that’s working from 19’s and below.
“I think that what we can then get is somebody really trying to make sure that the player pathway is better and has stronger depth than perhaps we’ve been unable to do up to now.”
Brooking watched two of England’s three games at Euro 2013 – which Powell’s side exited without a win from three group matches – as did the FA’s recently appointed Director of Elite Development, Dan Ashworth, who like Brooking will be involved in the appointment of the new women’s post.
Neither of them are likely to have been impressed with England’s showing, particularly against Russia in a match which, at half-time, Powell’s team’s performance was described by Brooking as “flat, poor,” adding, “the enthusiasm and zest is not there.”
The outcry for Powell’s sacking which has followed the tournament has been dismissed by the FA’s Director of the National Game and Women’s Football, Kelly Simmons, while the England captain, Casey Stoney, is calling for players to become full-time professionals in order to advance the national team’s standing.
A humiliating 3-0 defeat in the final group game came against a France team filled with professionals and Lincoln central defender Stoney, 31, said: “We need to be training full-time. It’s no coincidence that the French players all train twice a day and in our clubs we only train twice a week.
“Hopefully there will be clubs going full-time in the Super League next year. It’s fundamental to move the women’s game forward. At international level every player needs to be full-time professional – and whatever route it takes to get there, we have to do it.”
Holders Germany take on Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2013 tonight, with Italian defender Laura Neboli confident of success. Germany overcame the Italians at the same stage four years ago, en route to winning the competition.
“Germany are a strong and organised team, but I don’t consider them as stellar as four years ago,” Neboli said of their 2009 meeting. “They are more beatable. If we play our game at 100%, we can have our say.”
Hosts Sweden take on Iceland in today’s first quarter-final, with tomorrow’s two matches pitching Norway against Spain and favourites France with Denmark. The final takes place in Solna next Sunday.