Manager-player relationships 'not new' in women's football

  • Ruesha Littlejohn & Lucy Quinn are back for a new episode of Life's a Pitch
  • Manager-player relationships discussed in depth
  • London City Lionesses defender Georgia Brougham joins the panel

RUESHA reveals her EMBARRASSING red card of the week 🕷️ 😅 LIFE’S A PITCH St Patrick’s Day Special 🍀
RUESHA reveals her EMBARRASSING red card of the week 🕷️ 😅 LIFE’S A PITCH St Patrick’s Day Special 🍀 / 90min Football

In the latest episode of Life’s a Pitch, Ruesha Littlejohn and Lucy Quinn were joined by Ruesha’s London City Lionesses teammate Georgia Brougham. On the St Patrick's Day special, the issue of manager-player relationships were a major talking point.

Leicester boss Willie Kirk is currently suspended while an investigation over an alleged player relationship is ongoing. Jonathan Morgan, controversially cleared of bullying behaviour by Sheffield United, was recently sacked after a player relationship from his time at Leicester came to light.

Mark Sampson lost his job as England manager over a previous relationship with a player while in charge at Bristol Academy, while new Wales head coach Rhian Wilkinson previously left Portland Thorns in 2022 after an investigation into her conduct, having reported herself to the club after she and a player "developed feelings for one another" that were not acted upon.

"It's gone on in the game, but it's not new, it's been going on for a long time," Ruesha said in the new edition of 90min's women's football podcast this week.

"I'm not going to say names but I've probably been in a position before where I was manipulated by somebody that was in power. This is going back years, early on in my career. I had to do certain stuff, like extra sessions…it got very weird. I'm not going to say everything that happened, but, when I stopped going, I stopped playing. It was very weird and that was all power.

"I'm not saying it's a male thing because obviously there are women too. But because we are loud, outgoing personalities, it's a power thing where maybe they feel like they can have control and see if they can get you to fall into line. It becomes a kind of game of control, I don't know."

Some of the response to the issues that have recently come to light has suggested manager-player relationships should always be no-go. Others see more as blurred line.

"Nowadays, I feel because of the way game went, it's a professional full-time environment, there should just be a 'no relationships' like that. But then the other argument is player and player," Ruesha went on to say, referring to the double standards argument.

Lucy's view summed up just how complicated the issue can be.

"If you work in another job, you meet people. If you're both involved in football, then obviously you’ve got common interest, everyone is human and things like that happen," she said.

"But I do get that, if you're a manager or senior member of staff, it has to be a massive no-go because it gets too messy and too complicated. I do think people view women’s football [like], 'All the girls are vulnerable, all the girls are children', and obviously that is not the case. You can be 30-years-old and make the decision to pursue someone or get with someone.

"It is like a power struggle, but it's also adults making decisions and that's where it gets complicated. It's blurred lines. I don't ever want to have that as a problem within my squad, but like we say, it does happen. How do you say you can't have manager-player relationships, but player-player is okay? I guess it just comes down to picking the team, contracts, favouritism."

You can watch the latest episode of Life's a Pitch here. The audio version is also available on Apple and Spotify podcasts.