Manchester United manager Casey Stoney says she does not deserve her nomination for Women’s Super League manager of the season.
Stoney has been nominated alongside Chelsea’s Emma Hayes, Manchester City’s Gareth Taylor, Brighton’s Hope Powell and Birmingham’s Carla Ward.
United are currently fourth in the table, their final position last term. The race for the final Champions League spot sees them three points behind third-placed Arsenal, with both having two games left and the Gunners a vastly superior goal difference.
Stoney, whose side headed into 2021 as league leaders, said in March she would regard it as a failure on her part if United did not end the campaign with Champions League football secured, something she reiterated at her press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Bristol City.
And when asked about her award nomination and how she reflected on the season, Stoney said: “I don’t deserve the nomination for a start, I think there’s people more worthy of that award than me. If I was to get anything from it it would be for my players and staff. I’m not worthy of it.
“I think I reflect on the season as a big learning curve, and also with perspective. It’s only our fourth year next year. We are closer but not as close as I want to be, especially when we were sitting top at Christmas – but we also have perspective on that, because other teams had games in hand.”
Regarding how she would see not finishing in the top three, Stoney – who was speaking before Arsenal won 2-0 against West Ham on Wednesday – said: “A failure on my part. We’ve set out to hit top three, (if) we haven’t got it, I’m the head coach, I’ve got to take responsibility.
“I’ll look at all angles. If we had every single player fit throughout the season, would we have had more of a chance? Yes, of course we would. But we lost games where we could have won, missed chances at crucial moments, and I’m responsible for that.”
Stoney was also asked for her thoughts on the potential impact of not making the top three, after a new financial model for the Champions League, including increased rewards for participants, was announced earlier this week.
She said: “I think it has an impact if players want to play Champions League football and you don’t make it, in terms of recruitment. But I think with the business we’re doing all the players that want to come want to come, so hopefully we’ll get our business done, sooner rather than later.
“Obviously it has an impact on your budget, and despite what people think, we don’t have the budget of the other three (Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal). So it does have an impact, but also year by year we are growing, there is more investment, so all we can do is try to aim for that next season.”
Stoney has also paid tribute to her former team-mate Fara Williams, England’s most-capped player who announced this week she is to retire at the end of the season.
“I think she’s had an unbelievable career,” Stoney said of the 37-year-old, 172-cap Reading midfielder. “She turned her talent into a special career, against a lot of barriers. As a team-mate, I’m really proud of what she’s achieved, as a person, I’m really proud of everything she’s become, and she is, I think, an icon of the game.
“I just hope she stays in it because she has so much to offer this game and it’ll be poorer without her.”
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