Birmingham City have unveiled the former Sheffield United manager Carla Ward as their new head coach on a two-year deal.
The 36-year-old left the Blades by mutual consent last month after guiding them to their highest-ever league finish - second in the Championship - last season, while Birmingham finished second from bottom of the curtailed Women’s Super League after parting company with Spanish manager Marta Tejedor. They face a sizable rebuild having lost eight players this summer, including long-serving captain Kerys Harrop and England international Lucy Staniforth.
Ward told the club website: "This is a massive opportunity and one I'm looking forward to. Blues is a massive club with a great history.
"I'm a people person with a holistic approach that is very much based around the player. I'm a big believer, particularly in my playing days, [that] if we've got the players smiling and confident and buying into what you've got to do, then you've got half a chance. Straight away, it's about getting the players together and kicking on."
First team coach Charlie Baxter - who acted as interim manager following Tejedor’s departure - has been appointed assistant head coach, the club added, with Tony Elliott returning as goalkeeper coach after a spell at Bristol City Women. Coach Jenni Foster remains to complete the coaching staff.
Sarah Westwood, general manager for Birmingham City Women, said: “We’re delighted to bring Carla to the club.
"From the moment we first spoke, she impressed us with her ambition and work ethic. Her values and standards match perfectly with ours. I know the fans will get behind Carla and the team and we are looking forward to being able to welcome them back into the stands as soon as it is safe to do so.”