Manchester United are hopeful of appointing Orlando Pride head coach Marc Skinner as their new women’s team manager, Telegraph Sport understands, and discussions with the Florida-based club are ongoing.
Skinner, 38, is United’s number one target to replace Casey Stoney after her resignation at the end of last season, but he remains under contract with the American side. The former Birmingham City manager has been in charge in Orlando since January 2019, after he stepped down at Birmingham to move across the Atlantic.
It is understood there remains some way to go yet before a deal can be concluded. United declined to comment when asked about Skinner.
At Birmingham, Skinner developed a reputation for neat, passing football and playing out from the back. His team had a solid defensive record and upset the odds to reach the 2017 Women’s FA Cup final – knocking out Chelsea in the last four – and lost to Manchester City at Wembley. His side finished fourth in the WSL.
Players in the United squad are understood to be excited about the prospect of working with Skinner, after the disappointment of saying goodbye to Stoney, who impressed significantly during her three-year spell.
Skinner’s Orlando team currently sit fifth in the 10-team-strong American NWSL, after winning four, drawing four and losing three of their 11 league fixtures so far this term. In Florida he has worked with some of the biggest-name players in the sport, from Brazil legend Marta to World Cup-winning United States icon Alex Morgan, and Pride also have English duo Jodie Taylor and Amy Turner – formerly of Manchester United – on their roster.
United’s search for a new manager is said to have been extensive since Stoney’s resignation in May. Under Stoney, who led the club to promotion to the WSL in 2019, United finished fourth in the WSL last season, narrowly missing out on qualification for the Women’s Champions League.
Casey Stoney impressed during her time as Man Utd Women boss
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Despite officially being without a manager, earlier on Tuesday, the club unveiled their first signing of the summer, as Norway midfielder Vilde Boe Risa arrived on a two-year deal with the option of a third. The 26-year-old is one of the top-rated midfielders in Europe and a lifelong Manchester United supporter.
However, the impact of Stoney’s contributions to United are continuing with Boe Risa’s arrival, because the former England captain played a key role in securing her signature. It is understood Boe Risa signed a pre-contract agreement with United last season, with that agreement in place before she joined Norwegian club Sandviken in April on a short-term deal to keep fit. She had been one of Stoney’s top targets.
Boe Risa’s arrival and the club’s targeting of Skinner will both be welcome boosts for supporters, who have otherwise had little to cheer about since the end of last term, when United finished fourth in the WSL and narrowly missed out on a European qualification spot.
American stars Tobin Heath and Christen Press have both left the club after just one year in England, while young star Lauren James is also close to leaving, with United and rivals Chelsea having agreed a transfer fee for the 19-year-old English star and personal terms expected to be finalised this week.
Boe Risa was part of the Gothenburg side that were knocked out of last season’s Women’s Champions League by Manchester City in December, shortly before the Swedish league champions announced they were folding. Gothenburg were subsequently saved via a takeover by BK Hacken but Boe Risa was among those not to want to stay on, having attracted interest from around the continent.