Michael Owen: Only Matter Of Time Until A Woman Manages A Men's Professional Team

The former England and Liverpool star believes if the credentials are right, he doesn’t see why it can’t happen in the near future
17:00, 02 Oct 2022

Michael Owen is convinced it’s only a matter of time before a woman manages a professional men’s team.

Top boss Sarina Weigman masterminded England women’s history-making Euro title-success this summer as the Lionesses finally fired themselves into the limelight. And a second Euro crown for Dutch coach Weigman – who also won the competition with her native country – has even seen the top women’s coach tipped to be Gareth Southgate’s successor.

For now though, legendary England and Liverpool striker Owen believes the Football Association – and the country – need to stick by Southgate despite a worrying run of results.


“I can definitely see a woman manager managing a men’s team in the future,” said Owen.

“It might be a while before it happens at international level, say at England level.

“But I can definitely see that happening in the near future, yeah.

“If the credentials are right, then I don’t see why in the future that can’t happen. The landscape of football will be different, full stop.

“We’ve all seen in the women’s game and how that’s improved in recent years – and the interest, the finance, everything about is improving.

“So who knows, there might be in the future? You just never know what might happen.”

Owen enjoyed a glittering club and international career, having also played for Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United. And having worked with some of the best managers in the country knows the credentials needed for success.

Southgate guided England to fourth place in the last World Cup and lost last year’s Euros final – and Owen is convinced his former international teammate is the right man to lead England forward.

“I don’t know what you’d gain from making a change now,” stressed Owen. “At the last two major tournaments he’s come fourth and second.

“After all, what are we judging our [England] managers on? Games that don’t even matter? Or friendlies?

“I couldn’t care less if we lose a friendly, I want to do well in the big tournaments. 

“And if we’re judging Gareth Southgate on results in big tournaments, well he’s probably been as successful as any manager in recent history.”

Under pressure England manager Gareth Southgate
Under pressure England manager Gareth Southgate

England suffered humiliation after being dumped out of the Nations League after losing three and drawing two of their group matches. Finishing bottom of League A Group 3 means they will now play in the second tier, League B, with relegation set to have major implications on England’s seeing for Euro 2024.

However, Owen added: “We’ve played a lot of tough teams recently, but we’re a very good solid team.

“But Gareth Southgate can’t magic world-class players. We’re not amazing in every position.

“I don't know whether people are getting carried away looking at our team, but we’re really struggling at centre-half and, whoever he picks, are any of our goalkeepers likely to be in the top ten in the world? Arguable.

“I’m surprised they got relegated from the Nations League and the implications of that.

“It’s not ideal, but I’m really looking forward to the World Cup. 

“I think England go there, like they do most of the time, with a solid chance – but no more than that.”

England have often failed to live up to massive expectations in World Cups, but Owen – who played in three of them and who won 89 caps for his country and scored 40 goals – believes they have been punching above our weight for some time.

“We say we always fall short, but the reality is that it’s bloody nearly impossible,” said Owen, who played 16 consecutive seasons in the Premier League, scoring 163 goals in 362 top-flight appearances, before finally hanging up his boots.

“To come fourth and second, in the world, is pretty damn impressive given that we’re a tiny little island.

“Tournament football is very different to normal football. It’s about getting things right off the pitch as well, which is not easy. Missing your family for six weeks – or however long you’re away.

“And living with people you’re not normally living with and living out of a suitcase. There’s loads of things that are not standard day-to-day things that your job entails.

“Football-wise that’s the least of your worries in many ways, but it’s really important to have a great team spirit, in the camp and around the hotel.

“If you can get a great team spirit going, that can count for a lot at tournaments and take you far.

“I think the one thing Gareth Southgate and his team have got is a great team spirit.

“I don’t think we’re the best team in the tournament, but without doubt we’ve got one of the best team spirits. And as I say that can get you far in tournaments.

“I think we go into the World Cup with a very good chance, but by no means are we favourites.

“France have got great players, just like Brazil. There’s loads of great teams. 

“I don’t know what people expect, to come second and fourth is pretty good for us I’d say.”

Owen made his England debut in 1998 when he became his country’s youngest player and youngest goalscorer at the time. His famous goal against Argentina in the World Cup of that year will long live in England folklore.

And after a memorable – and commendable - decade-long England career before international retirement in 2008, Owen is convinced Southgate’s team should fear no-one in Qatar next month,

“I don’t think there’s a massive stand-out team in the World Cup, but I don’t think we should be frightened of anyone in particular,” offered Owen.

“But I do think England are a couple of world class players short of going there full of confidence.

“However, I do think we are one of the best teams in the world and, obviously, finishing fourth at the last World Cup – and then second at the Euros – well we can go far in tournaments, so it’s quite encouraging.”

Watch Liverpool v Rangers in the UEFA Champions League exclusively live on BT Sport 2 from 6:30pm on Tuesday 4tt October. For more info, visit btsport.com

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