Exclusive: FA's search for England Women head coach narrowed down to two candidates

Katie Whyatt
·2-min read
England's players at the World Cup - PA
England's players at the World Cup - PA
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The Football Association is down to its final two candidates in its hunt for Phil Neville’s successor as England Women head coach, Telegraph Sport understands. 

An announcement is not expected this week but could arrive as early as next week, with the governing body currently in the final stages of a recruitment process that drew over 140 applications. 

Telegraph Sport understands that the former Manchester City head coach Nick Cushing, recently appointed assistant at MLS side New York City, did not apply for the position, while the Manchester United manager Casey Stoney appeared to rule herself out over the weekend when she told Sky Sports that she still saw herself at that club for the next five to ten years. 

The Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes also seemed to deny interest in April, telling Sky Sports: "It’s an honour to be linked with the national team - as an older person, I’ve probably been more considered about entering into international football at some point in my life - but right now, I’m extremely happy at Chelsea.” 

Neville, 43, said in April that he planned to leave England upon the expiry of his contract in July 2021. His older brother Gary said at the time that the "rug’s been pulled under [Phil's] feet" after the Olympics and European Championships were moved to 2021 and 2022 respectively due to coronavirus. Neville had previously been in line to manage both tournaments, with the Euros - hosted by England - opening at Old Trafford. 

As the lead home nation for football, the English FA will make the final call on who will manage the Team GB composite side at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, but this does not automatically have to be the England manager. It is understood that the governing body has not yet made a decision because one of the two England candidates would like to lead the Olympic team and the other would not.

If the latter is appointed, Neville would be the obvious choice - but there is an awareness from the FA that he could be unavailable if he has, for instance, found another job in football by then. 

Neville said in May that he had always had ambitions to move into club football once his time with the England national team had ended but he has been involved in the search for his replacement, with the FA liaising with Neville once a week. Neville, well-liked by the players, has offered to share his knowledge with his replacement to help with the handover period. 

Jill Ellis, who coached the USA to back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019, is among the favourites for the role. Since stepping down in October 2019, she has worked for US Soccer as the federation’s development director, overseeing youth development for the national team.