Polly Bancroft exclusive: Manchester United Women lead with new ‘women’s football manager’ role | Soccer News

The appointment of Polly Bancroft as head of women’s football at Manchester United has positioned her as one of the most powerful executives in English women’s football.

In this unique and all-new role, Bancroft will be responsible for helping United rise to the top of European football.

Bancroft has started the process to become Manchester United’s first women’s football manager, like any other bid.

“I saw the ad!” she said sky sports in an exclusive interview. “I was immediately interested in the scale of the role and the opportunity this brand has, both in terms of the women’s first team participation in the Women’s Super League, but more broadly than that, the power of the brand internationally as well, and the power for good it brings.”

Bancroft had spent the last two years as managing director of the Brighton women’s team, having previously worked for UEFA and the FA.

“Bringing integration and collaboration was my way of working [at Brighton]”, she explains. “There is certainly an appetite to do that at Manchester United as well.

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“There is so much knowledge and experience within the club. This club knows how to play football.

“And yet, it’s about balancing that understanding of female athletes and the female game with understanding and learning about the male side. [It’s about] these two mixtures of specialization and experience and bringing them together.”

The role, ‘Head of Women’s Football’, is quite unique in women’s football, but it’s a position Bancroft thinks we’ll see more clubs in the WSL adopt, as they realize they can’t necessarily translate their understanding of the men’s game accurately. that of women.

“There are certain nuances in working with female athletes. We’re in a different league, so there are certain different rules and regulations that need to be adhered to. So it’s not about using a model to copy- stick, but to understand the needs of the game, and be able to navigate through that.”

At United, the position will be a board role that combines both business and football elements.

“I think the role has different layers,” says Bancroft. “It’s clear that it’s to work very closely with Marc [Skinner], players and staff with the women’s first team. But also throughout the course.

“We have eight female teams within the club and we have also just created an Emerging Talent Centre.

“So he accompanies all these women and girls on the journey and then integrates women’s football more within the club. He works with the recruitment department, the club secretaries, the commercial department, the legal department.

“And then I guess the third layer is working with the main stakeholders of the game. Working with the FA, the broadcasters and our supporters club to further develop the women’s game.”

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Manchester United and Chelsea

The fact that women’s football continues to grow through the seasons means that many of the challenges Bancroft could face in her new role aren’t even apparent yet.

One such change that is likely to happen is the transition of the WSL away from being managed by the FA, which Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has called for.

“[We’re] look internally in terms of our role in those conversations. We have members across the club who are heavily involved in various different committees within the FA, and I think we have a great role and a good voice… in those conversations.

“There is a lot of dialogue between clubs and with the FA about the best future for women’s football. Everyone is committed to finding the best home for women’s football in the long term.”

It’s just one potential development that Bancroft will look to navigate in his new role. There are certainly other challenges on a more day-to-day level.

“I think because the scope of the role is so big – it’s football and not football, it’s about prioritizing to have the biggest impact.

“I think [it’s about] be able to be attentive to the different demands that arise, whether in marketing, recruitment and working with staff.

“So I think it’s just about being really clear on the priorities and then sticking to your guns and using your knowledge and experience, but doing it the right way.”

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Our pick of Ella Toone’s best Women’s Super League moments after the striker signed a contract extension with Manchester United

Obviously with a club the size of Manchester United, it will still come down first and foremost to what happens on the pitch.

There have been three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the WSL, but there are now also three Euro 2022 winners in the squad in Mary Earps, Alessia Russo and Ella Toone. Expectations will only grow.

“There has been rapid growth. This is the fifth season of the new era.

“We are ambitious and we want to win every game. We want to be in the final stages of every competition we take part in. And everyone really rallies around Marc and the whole club team to help us succeed.”

At Bancroft, Manchester United might have found the last piece of their puzzle.

Watch Arsenal Women vs Man United Women live on Sky Sports Main Event on Saturday from 5.15pm; kick off 5:30 p.m.

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