Casey Stoney left Manchester United at the end of the season

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney has been appointed as the head coach of new United States-based women’s club San Diego.

The 39-year-old ex-England captain resigned from her role at Manchester United at the end of last season after a three-year spell in charge. At San Diego she will work under the 2015 and 2019 World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis, who is their club president, and Stoney is the new team’s first ever head coach. San Diego will join the American NWSL next year as an expansion franchise.

They will be rivals to Los-Angeles-based newcomers Angel City, who named Stoney’s former England team-mate Eniola Aluko as their first sporting director earlier this summer and are similarly building a new side from scratch ahead of the 2022 American season.

Stoney won 52 of her 77 competitive games in charge of Manchester United, and secured back-to-back fourth-placed finishes in the Women’s Super League after winning promotion with the second-tier in her first campaign. She was credited with building United’s team from a fairly blank canvas, when they reformed a senior women’s side for the first time in 13 years in 2018.

Ellis said at a press conference on Wednesday: "We’ve hired one of the best coaches in the world. I couldn’t be more proud and honoured to have Casey come and join us and lead our team. The way she handles herself, these things are important. She is an exceptional leader and was an exceptional player back in the day."

Stoney, who is understood to have stepped down from her role at United partly because of disappointment at the facilities provided for the women’s team, said of her new employers: “Jill and this ownership group are deeply committed to building a world-class club both on and off the field and I look forward to being a part of creating our culture and style of play as a team. I am eager to begin work immediately ahead of our inaugural year of competition in NWSL next season.”

The WSL’s loss is the NWSL’s gain

Analysis by Tom Garry

Stoney’s move across the Atlantic is a significant loss for the WSL in England, as she had been a leading figure off the field not only as a top-class coach but by frequently speaking up about issues of equality, fighting racism and helping to enhance the profile of the women’s game.

For the next phase of Stoney’s coaching career, the chance to work under double-World Cup winner Ellis would be too good for almost any coach to turn down, and they will be a formidable partnership that is likely to attract many of the game’s brightest stars to southern California.

Her appointment illustrates the respect she has across the globe. She won 130 caps for England as a player, as well as representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, and she helped the Lionesses reach the final of Euro 2009.

She is the second well-known former England star to move to the NWSL in recent weeks, after Aluko left her sporting director role at Aston Villa to take up a similar position with Angel City.

But Wednesday’s news will perhaps make the trickiest reading for Manchester United fans, whose own team are still yet to name a replacement for Stoney and whose summer transfer business has been slow to get going.