It is two decades since Cherie Lunghi graced our TV screens as "The Manageress", coaching and picking the team at a struggling Football League club, but the prospect of a female manager taking over a real professional team is only marginally less remote.
Hope Powell, when pressed, always says she would welcome the chance and it is possible that a lower league chairman, seeking publicity, might offer her the opportunity. Whether she would take it is a matter of conjecture. She has a job for life at the FA and is expected to move into an overseeing role with the England women's team. By contrast many lower division jobs are poorly paid, under-resourced – and poisoned chalices.
Could she do it? Opinions are divided within the women's game as to whether Powell is a fine coach, or one who was in the right place at the right time. The Football Association have thrown so much money at the women's side, and there has been such investment in coaching at clubs like Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea, some believe it was inevitable that the team would start to produce results like those in Finland in August when they reached the European Championship final.
Could a woman do it? The first to try would start with major handicaps. The media glare would be intense and personal; many fans and players would view such an appointment negatively. There would be challenges to her authority. But it is a results business. There may be a "how many international caps have you won?" mentality in the game but many leading managers – Arsene Wenger, Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho – had minor playing careers. Plenty of famous players have failed as managers. Wenger was regarded with suspicion when he arrived at Arsenal, he was little known, had come from working in Japan, and had unfamiliar ideas on coaching and diet.
Karren Brady, the former chief executive of Birmingham City, proved that a talented woman with a strong personality can thrive in the men's game. There is no reason why a woman coach cannot do the same. The hard part may be getting a fair opportunity.Reuse content