Manchester United have appointed Marc Skinner as the new head coach of their women’s team on a two-year contract with the option of an additional year.
Skinner stepped down from his role at Orlando Pride on Friday, after two-and-a-half years in Florida.
Now, the 38-year-old returns to England and the Women’s Super League to succeed Casey Stoney, who left Manchester at the end of last season. She has since been appointed head coach of San Diego’s new NWSL expansion side.
What has been said?
Skinner said in an official press release: "I am excited and proud to become head coach at Manchester United. I’m looking forward to working closely with the staff and this talented group of players.
"Our focus is to build on everything they have already achieved in the women’s game. It’s an exciting opportunity to lead the team into what will be another competitive WSL season; I want us to achieve success together and our aim is to give the fans a team they can continue to be proud of."
Executive Vice Chairman, Ed Woodward, added: “Marc is a coach with proven pedigree in the WSL and we are delighted he is joining the club and returning to the league after his recent time in the US.
"Our commitment to the continued development and success of the Women’s team is total, and we see Marc’s appointment, along with the talented squad and players recruited this summer, as key to that process.”
How did Skinner do in the NWSL?
It’s difficult to judge Skinner on his time with the Pride. His first season in Florida was very disappointing, with the club failing to win any of his first nine games. They finished the campaign at the bottom of the table, with just 16 points from 24 matches.
The following year, the Covid-19 pandemic prevented the regular season from going ahead, while an outbreak of cases among the Orlando team stopped them competing in the inaugural NWSL Challenge Cup.
This season, it looked like Skinner had finally cracked the code, getting the best out of a star-studded roster that includes U.S. women’s national team star Alex Morgan and Brazil icon Marta.
However, after a positive start saw the team go unbeaten in their first seven NWSL games of the season, they lost three of his last four matches in charge.
Skinner does have a glowing reputation in England, however, from his time with Birmingham City. He spent three years in charge of the club before joining the Pride, leading them to an FA Cup final and gradually improving on their WSL finishes, despite having a much smaller budget than most of their rivals.
What challenge does Man Utd present?
Man Utd finished fourth in the WSL last season, in just their second year in the top flight – they were even top of the table at Christmas.
However, the campaign was seen as a disappointment, such was the club’s aim to finish in the top three and secure a UEFA Women’s Champions League spot, especially given they were in a very strong position to do so for most of the year. Skinner will be tasked with helping the club take that next step.
It won’t be easy for him to do so, however. Arsenal, perceived as the member of the ‘big three’ that United could pick off, appear to be strengthening and regaining ambition that some have questioned recently. Clubs like Everton, meanwhile, are also trying to hunt down a European spot.
As well as that, United have lost a number of key players over the summer. Teenage sensation Lauren James joined Chelsea, reliable centre-back Amy Turner moved to Orlando and the USWNT duo of Tobin Heath and Christen Press were also among those to depart.
The club has made a few signings recently, though, in Norwegian midfielder Vilde Boe Risa, striker Martha Thomas, former Chelsea defender Hannah Blundell, Bristol goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley and Aoife Mannion, who arrives from Manchester City. With a manager now also in place, the hope will be that United can build on the strong foundation laid by Stoney.