Manchester United Women head coach Casey Stoney has paid tribute to Emma Hayes for being a trailblazer in the sport, but insisted victory at Chelsea on Sunday will not guarantee silverware at the end of the season.
The top two in the Women’s Super League clash at Kingsmeadow and the winner will finish the weekend at the summit.
It is a similar story in the men’s game, where Premier League champions Liverpool will host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who are in first place and hold a three-point advantage over their rivals.
Stoney said: “I think it has been talked about on social media. As Ole has stated and I’ll state, no one wins anything at half-time.
“We are not picking up any trophies in January and it is the same for Ole.
“It is great for him to be in the position he is in, it is great for us to be in the position we are in, but it is more important we are performing week in, week out so we are sustaining something and we are in a good position come May.”
With Phil Neville expected to take charge of David Beckham’s Inter Miami side, it would rule the current England Women’s manager out of guiding the Great Britain Women’s football team at the Olympic Games this summer.
Both Stoney and Chelsea boss Hayes have been linked with the role and this weekend could be viewed as the start of the race to win the post.
Yet the United head coach played down that talk and focused on the legacy of this Sunday’s opponent, with the Blues chief back in 2012 becoming one of the few women to hold a key role in the sport.
“The weekend’s game is an opportunity for us to try and get a result for Manchester United and nothing more than that. I am Man United head coach and I am very happy where I am,” Stoney insisted.
“I think you have to look and put all the credit on Emma’s shoulders. She was the first and she led the way.
“She proved to a club she could do it and by proving to a club she could, it role-modelled out to others that women can do the job and that it is coaching, football, people and the best person for the job.
“I think she paved the way in that sense and it is great that our game in this country is showing strong leadership from women, strong coaching from women and giving women the opportunities within the game.”
While Stoney has enjoyed great success during her two and a half years at United, it is not her first managerial role.
She juggled playing with coaching at Chelsea in 2009 before she moved on due to a lack of full-time training at the club.
It is in contrast to the set-up now at the current WSL champions, who have won the division three times since they became professional.
Stoney, 38, added: “I managed Chelsea in 2009 for a brief stint and we had absolutely nothing – we couldn’t even get a tracksuit and Emma has completely revolutionised that football club.
“She is obviously a strong leader in terms of getting the board’s backing and making sure they continuously back it and the success she has had speaks for itself.”
United will have Lauren James available for the trip to the capital while Alessia Russo continues to make progress following a spell on the sidelines.
This will be their first match of 2021 after last weekend’s fixture at Everton was postponed amid a number of other games being called off due to coronavirus cases at WSL clubs.