Mark Sampson: Is now the right time to leave Lionesses?

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Flickr, Mack Male

PRIDE and passion, words that have not been associated with an England football team all that often in recent times, but ones that are very much doing the rounds this summer.

Roy Hodgson’s troops may have maintained their faultless progress towards Euro 2016 in post-season competition, but there remain as many questions as there are answers when it comes to the men’s national side.

The same cannot be said of the women’s squad as they reflect on a third-placed finish at the 2015 World Cup.

Yes, there is still a sense of what could have been, with Laura Bassett becoming an unfortunate household name on the back of her gut-wrenching own goal during the semi-final clash with Japan.

 

 

The Lionesses dusted themselves down from that disappointment, though, to secure a historic extra-time victory over Germany and secure themselves much-deserved bronze medals.

Mark Sampson’s women had the nation dreaming again, with a public often blind to goings on outside of the masculine Premier League/Champions League bubble suddenly buying into the efforts of a side that competed as a unit and embodied everything that we have longed to see from their male counterparts for far too long.

What next, though, for the man that oversaw this success?

It has not, unsurprisingly, taken long for talk of Sampson taking his coaching career in a different direction to circulate.

Here is a man who defied expectations to a guide a side few punters on international football betting markets fancied for global glory to the brink of a World Cup final and a shot at the grandest prize in sport.

The attributes he clearly has should stand him in good stead were he to take the plunge and leave the Lionesses on a high.

Sampson’s profile is at an all-time high and there will be no better time for him to thank the Football Association for their support and try his luck in the men’s game.

It must, however, be noted that he is not going to walk into a Premier League post.

Taking that into account, there is a marked difference between working at an international level and on a Football League stage.

 

 

With England, he has been working with the best of the best, the cream of the women’s crop and players that possess the ability to put his ideas into practice.

Were he, for example, to join a Championship club, or a League One outfit, greater emphasis would be placed on his man-management skills and an ability to get the best out of a collective, rather than rely on the brilliance of individuals.

Sampson should feel that he is up to that task and few would hold it against him if he decided that now, after close to two years in his current post, is the right time to take on a new challenge.

The grass is not always greener, though, and having worked so hard to lift the profile of women’s football in England to the heights it now enjoys, there is as strong an argument for staying put and working towards future goals, with the 2017 European Championships in Holland an event the Lionesses should be approaching with great belief and momentum behind them, as there is for packing his bags.

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