Manchester United missed out on Champions League football only narrowly, a battle which not many outside of the club would have ever expected.

They lost out to Arsenal who announced the departure of their manager Joe Montemurro a couple of months ago now, the Aussie having lifted the WSL title with the Londoners in 2019.

Whilst it has been public knowledge for a while now that Arsenal are currently searching for a replacement, the bombshell dropped on the WSL this week regarding Manchester United’s departing head-coach took everyone by storm.

Casey Stoney got Man United promoted to the top division at the first time of asking and then, against all odds, had them embroiled in a UWCL qualification scrap until the very last minute.

Arsenal's Danielle van de Donk and Manchester United's Jackie Groenen in action in the WSL
Arsenal’s Danielle van de Donk and Manchester United’s Jackie Groenen in action in the WSL (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Casey Stoney has often been vocal regarding the running of the club and how she feels that the women’s side of things is often overlooked, tensions having reportedly been bubbling up under the surface, off of the pitch.

It is still unknown as to whether the aforementioned issues as well as a lack of finances played a part in her decision to leave Manchester but Stoney did say ‘I now feel the time is right to take some time away and for someone else to come in and lead the team on the next stage of its journey’.

Whoever does replace Stoney, who many believe will one day go on to manage the Lionesses, has huge boots to fill given the instant success she brought to the club- but where next for her?

Manchester United's former manager Casey Stoney
Manchester United’s former manager Casey Stoney (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Having won the WSL twice in its’ old iteration as a player with Arsenal, naturally there were instant links between Casey Stoney and the vacancy at the helm of the Gunners.

However, the chatter certainly seems to oppose this and instead points towards a move abroad, Meg Linehan at The Athletic reporting that she is in talks to ‘head to San Diego to manage the NWSL expansion team for the 2022 season’.

The club have taken a step in the direction by bringing former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis in as Sporting Director, the English-born American was in charge for the successes at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

It is said that Ellis is an admirer of Stoney and that she has therefore been on their radar on the West Coast for a while- her final game in charge set to be the upcoming cup tie with newly promoted Leicester City.  

Angel City FC, the partner of current MLS side LAFC, will also be added to the NWSL along with the San Diego franchise, the pair’s involvement taking the amount of teams up to twelve.

Former USWNT head coach and now NWSL San Diego expansion side Sporting Director Jill Ellis
Former USWNT head coach and now NWSL San Diego expansion side Sporting Director Jill Ellis (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus)

As previously mentioned, Joe Montemurro won’t be in charge of Arsenal at the start of next season, this year seeing Chelsea and Manchester City overshadow them on the domestic front and also on the continent too.

Directly following the announcement of Montemurro’s departure, the club was quoted as having said ‘we’re going to be looking for someone to build on the illustrious history that Arsenal Women have, build on the legacy that Joe is leaving and also lead us into a new era for women’s football.’

Not to mention that Dutch midfielder Jill Roord will also being departing Arsenal as she will join German side Wolfsburg.

Arsenal's departing duo: Dutch midfielder Jill Roord and Australian manager Joe Montemurro
Arsenal’s departing duo: Dutch midfielder Jill Roord and Australian manager Joe Montemurro (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

In terms of his successor and Wales head coach Jayne Ludlow was one of the first names to crop up, this now not being feasible given that she has taken up a role as technical director with Manchester City’s academy.

It is all speculation as we stand but former West Ham manager Matt Beard who managed to keep Bristol City fighting against relegation until the final day this season is one of the names being spoken about, others including legend of the game Mo Marley and also Laura Harvey- the latter having previously managed Arsenal before going stateside where she currently coaches USWNT U20s.

Manchester United's Casey Stoney has resigned!
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Laura Harvey the Manager of Arsenal during the FA Women’s Super League match between Arsenal Ladies FC and Bristol Academy Women’s FC at Meadow Park on August 30, 2012 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Whereas there has been time to discuss the new Arsenal manager, Casey Stoney’s announcement is fresh off the press, to the point that the players at Manchester United didn’t hear of it until a couple of hours before it went public.

Due to the recency of it, the paper talk is yet to start on the topic of who will be the Red Devils’ second ever head coach but Stoney’s next venture seems to be setting in stone as we speak. How will she fare when she swaps WSL for NWSL action?

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