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Carla Ward: Aston Villa Women boss to step down to spend more time with family

Carla Ward said: “To step down from my post here at Aston Villa has been the hardest decision of my managerial career, but I know it is the right one for my family and I"; Villa tried to persuade Ward to stay but will now make an announcement on her successor in "due course"

Carla Ward says stepping down is the 'hardest decision' of her management career
Image: Carla Ward has spent three years at Aston Villa

Aston Villa Women boss Carla Ward is to step down at the end of the season.

Ward has spent three years at Villa, establishing the club as a mainstay in the Women's Super League following their promotion to the top-flight in 2020 under Gemma Davies.

Following a ninth-placed finish in her opening season, Ward led Villa to fifth in 2022/23, the club's best-ever league position in the WSL. Villa also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup that season.

Villa reached the semi-finals of the Conti Cup this campaign and currently sit seventh in the WSL with two games remaining.

Ward says stepping down from the role "has been the hardest decision of my managerial career".

Carla Ward says stepping down is the 'hardest decision' of her management career
Image: Ward says stepping down is the 'hardest decision' of her management career

"Managing a great club like Aston Villa has been a full-throttle job and I have always given the role 100 per cent dedication," said Ward. "However, I now believe it is the right time for me to prioritise the other important things - such as my daughter and the rest of my family life.

"I am immensely grateful to Monchi and Damian Vidagany who tried so hard to encourage me to stay in the role, but I know it is the right time to step down after our last game of the season."

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Villa say an update on the manager's position will be made in "due course".

President of football operations Monchi said: "Carla came to us a few weeks ago and spoke of her plan to step down. We have had extensive dialogue with her to see if there was anything we could do to persuade her to stay, but she is adamant that she wants to take a break from the game.

"Therefore, on behalf of everybody at Aston Villa, I want to place on record our grateful thanks to Carla for everything she has achieved with us and wish her well for the future."

Director of Football Operations Damian Vidagany, said: "In my opinion, Carla is one of the best managers in women's football and we are sad to see here go. I would like to wish her all the best for the future."

Analysis: Ward exit a blow for Villa

Sky Sports' Laura Hunter:

"Losing Carla Ward is a big blow for Aston Villa, having been a driving force behind the club's development, on and off the pitch, over the past three campaigns. Last season was unprecedented, this year less so, but still, Ward has instilled a culture of growth and accelerated progress, one that has drawn players with vast international pedigree - Rachel Daly, Lucy Staniforth, Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Corsie - to the club.

"Ward is a big character, someone who is extremely well respected within the women's game, and one of few female managers operating at elite level. Clearly, this season has been taxing. Villa have underperformed, and it's halted some of the momentum built from last year's achievements - but, they are now an established WSL force and have proven they can go deep in cup competitions too.

"Strong managerial replacements are difficult to come by in today's game - as Chelsea are finding out - so it'll be interesting to see which direction Villa turn next."

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