Jill Ellis, Matt Beard and Jayne Ludlow – the frontrunners to replace Arsenal’s Joe Montemurro
Former US World Cup winning coach Jill Ellis and ex-Wales manager Jayne Ludlow are two front-runners to succeed Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro this summer.
The Australian on Wednesday announced he would be leaving the Women’s Super League club at the end of this season after three and a half years in charge to spend more time with his family.
Muntemurro, who led the Gunners to their first Women’s Super League title in seven years in 2019, said he wanted his decision to be made public so the club could “get the process going” of finding his successor
The 51-year-old cited being away from his family behind his decision but added it “felt like the right time” to step away from football “in the context of where I am as a coach”
“You know what it’s like in the off season, you get your three, four weeks [off] but you don’t stop, you’re always thinking about recruiting staff, playing and going forward and it’s not really a break. Just to not think about football for a while is going to be really nice, [but] really strange.”
Montemurro would not be drawn on whether he would play an active role in helping to find his successor, but stressed that “there’s enough good people” at Arsenal for such a process.
ANALYSIS: Who will replace Montemurro? By Tom Garry
Who next for Arsenal? Interest in Arsenal’s managerial vacancy will be vast, but few coaches will have the credentials and experience to fit the bill for one of the biggest jobs in the sport.
Whoever comes in will be tasked with not only continuing with the dynamic, passing style of football Montemurro has overseen, but most importantly with trying to reassert Britain’s most successful women’s team historically back at the summit of the English game and not allow Chelsea and Manchester City’s recent stranglehold to continue any longer. That will be hugely difficult.
Former Wales manager Jayne Ludlow will be among the strongest contenders, not least because of her links with Arsenal, where she spent 13 years of her successful playing career. The 42-year-old was an integral part of the Arsenal side that won a historic quadruple of trophies in 2007 and was among the legends of an era where the club enjoyed unprecedented dominance of the game.
Ludlow left her role as Wales coach by mutual consent in January after seven years in charge. She has taken up a role with Fifa but is understood to be interested in the right club job.
Given her almost unrivalled international success and her extensive honours list, Ellis can rightly command a large salary, and that might be a slight stumbling block for Arsenal. But many fans of the north London club will hope the club will at least be speaking to her.
As one of only five different managers to have won the WSL, Matt Beard has the necessary experience to help Arsenal mount a serious title challenge again, having won the league twice with Liverpool in 2013 and 2014.
He is currently providing maternity cover for Bristol City manager Tanya Oxtoby until the end of the season, but is set to be a free agent this summer, with his stock high after turning the West Country club’s form around. But would Arsenal’s board consider the leap from the Robins to the north Londoners to be too great?
If Arsenal were to look to a former manager, Laura Harvey is as good as they come and guided Arsenal to the 2011 and 2012 WSL titles.
However, she is currently employed as the United States’ Under-20 coach and is reportedly happy on the other side of the pond.
A big act to follow
Arsenal are currently fourth in the WSL table and on a four-game winning run as they continue to target a Champions League spot for next season. Under his three and a half year tenure, Arsenal have reached four domestic cup finals, including back-to-back Continental League Cup wins, and a Champions League quarter-final.
Montemurro said he was a “mess” when he told players of his decision after training on Wednesday, a moment he described as “teary”.
“It was extremely difficult because we’ve built some great friendships,” said Montemurro.
“They’ve all had an effect on me, every player, even ones that are not with me here and have moved on.
“The biggest thing I was scared of was that they’d be upset and never let me back into the club, but I can sit here and safely say that I’m forever part of the Arsenal family and I was one of the lucky ones who got to work here.”
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