Mo Marley has been appointed interim head coach of England Women.
She takes over from Mark Sampson who was sacked by the Football Association on September 20. Marley moves up from her role in charge of the England Under-19 team and will lead the senior side in a friendly against France on October 20 and in World Cup qualifiers in November against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.
The 50-year-old said on the FA website: “It is a privilege to be asked to work with the senior team on an interim basis, especially when I have witnessed the dedication both players and staff have shown to become the third best team in the world.”
Sampson was dismissed over what the FA described as ”inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” stemming from his previous job with Bristol Academy. He lost his job the day after England began their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 6-0 win over Russia at Tranmere’s Prenton Park.
Marley is a popular figure in the women’s game whose short-term appointment is expected to be warmly received by the Lionesses squad.
The 50-year-old former England captain said of the senior side: “Having watched them at close quarters in the past few years, I know they are a fantastic group of people on and off the pitch. It will be my job to step in and ensure they stay focused on the World Cup qualification. We know these players are talented and I know they are capable of great things in the future.”
Marley’s short-term tenure will inevitably be seen as a chance for her to lay a claim on the permanent post, for which she was widely seen to rank among the leading contenders after Sampson’s reign came to a sudden end.
Sampson denied claims of wrongdoing during his England reign, after 102-cap striker Eni Aluko made allegations of racism, bullying and harassment, and he appeared to have the full support of his squad.
The turbulent manner of his departure means stability becomes key and Marley should provide that, having nurtured the talent of up-and-coming Lionesses during her years in charge of the England Under-19 side, whom she has coached since 2001.
Her age-group side won the European Championship in July 2009, with current England internationals Lucy Bronze, Toni Duggan, Jade Moore, Jordan Nobbs and Izzy Christiansen all involved.
More recently, Marley’s team secured their place at next year’s Women’s U20 World Cup, which will be staged by France, a year before the same country hosts the senior World Cup. The FA has not specified it is seeking a woman to succeed Sampson but it has been urged to do so by several prominent figures in the game, including England’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith.
Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes appeared to rule herself out of the running days after Sampson’s departure by saying she planned to stay with the Blues for the long term.
That fuelled speculation UEFA Pro Licence holder Marley and Sampson’s former assistant Marieanne Spacey could be leading candidates, with both already employed by the FA.