Carla Ward makes women’s football vow after emotional Aston Villa goodbye

  • Aston Villa ended the WSL season with a narrow 1-0 defeat to title-chasers Manchester City
  • Carla Ward’s Aston Villa tenure came to an end at Villa Park
  • The manager has vowed to return to the game after a much-needed break
Carla Ward's time at Aston Villa came to an end following their final WSL game against Manchester City
Carla Ward's time at Aston Villa came to an end following their final WSL game against Manchester City / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Carla Ward has vowed she will return to women’s football following an emotional final game as Aston Villa manager at Villa Park.

The ‘final dance’ didn’t quite go to plan on the day as title-chasers Manchester City edged a narrow 2-1 win, although it wasn’t enough for the Cityzens to clinch the WSL title ahead of holders Chelsea. Mary Fowler opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half before a second-half strike from Rachel Daly put them back on level terms.

A late goal from Lauren Hemp decided the game, but it was a resilient display from Villa, who have had a much stronger second-half of the season after they found themselves on the verge of a relegation battle earlier in the campaign. The ability to turn things around and claim a seventh placed finish is testament to the belief Ward has instilled at the club during her three-year tenure.

Ward confirmed her departure at the beginning of the month, insisting she needed to prioritise other things in life, such as family. She was joined by her young daughter, Hartley, for her final press conference after the game and she expressed her excitement at getting to spend more time with her nearest and dearest.

“It’s been weird from the moment I left Sheffield this morning,” Ward conceded. “Emotions have been up and down, but I’m ready for a break. There isn’t a part of me that thinks ‘have I made the right decision?’

“I know I’ve made the right decision. I made it a few months ago, in fact. I’m at peace with it now and I’m ready to step aside and let somebody else take it on.”

Carla Ward, Alisha Lehmann, Sarah Mayling
Aston Villa were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Manchester City in their final WSL game of the season / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

However, she doesn’t intend to be gone from the game for too long and hinted she could be ready to return to the dugout by Christmas.

“There is no ‘potentially’ about it, I will 100 percent be back,” Ward added. “Everyone keeps saying to give it a few months and you’ll be back in management.

“Definitely not a couple of months, maybe six. I joked about it then with Fara [Williams] and Alex [Scott], we all know when sacking season is. You never know, I might be back then. We’ll see.

“For now, I need a holiday and a break. The summer holidays are all about me and my daughter because she keeps asking when we’re going to do something and when she’s going to see me. I told her the other day she’ll see me a lot more now.”

Villa are yet to announce who will be taking the team forward, but Ward revealed she has had no input in appointing her successor. ‘I don’t think it’s right,” she concluded. 

“I’ll be honest, I said to my boss Lee [Billiard] very early on that I didn’t want to know anything about it. I wanted to focus on the group for the remaining games. 

“Plus, the players pestered me everyday and asked me [who was taking over] and I can’t lie to them, so I’d rather not know. What I do know is it’s in capable hands with Lee and I’m sure he’ll find the right person.”