Nick Cushing’s vacation of his position as Manchester City women’s manager comes as surprising as his assumption of the position back in 2013.
Young and inexperienced in the women’s game back then, Cushing was handed the reins to lead the team through the club’s maiden campaign in the Women’s Super League. The then 29-year-old had only coached junior boys’ sides at the Man City academy up until his appointment to the new role. It turned out to be a great decision as he has gone on to enjoy a successful six-year spell with the team.
Of course, he was bound to leave the side at some point. But is a mid-season departure at a time the team is in the middle of a title race the best for all parties involved?
Sustainable success requires adequate planning ahead of time. It also requires making changes to the system at the right time to avoid unnecessarily rocking the boat. City women have made consistent progress under the young manager, albeit with the help of good investment by the club in quality players and facilities.
It’s rather curious that the 35-year-old is leaving his position as boss of the senior women’s team to become assistant manager at sister club New York City FC. Yet, the man himself regards the move as an opportunity to further his career. Does that say something about how the women’s game is still viewed?
After making giant strides forward in recent years one would expect that the status of the women’s game would have significantly improved.
Be that as it may, what is the rationale behind removing a manager from the team at such a crucial time in the season?
Cushing could easily leave at the end of the current campaign to take up his new role while a new manager takes over the women’s team to usher in a fresh start. In a season where the margin for error is so little, keeping the whole group in tact and focused until season’s end is very important.
The team is battling Arsenal and Chelsea for trophies this term, including the WSL title. All hands are supposed to be on deck to get the job done with no distractions allowed. But at this point in time, the manager’s departure has become exactly that. The players cannot maintain 100% focus when there is change at the very core of what holds them together. Their leader is jumping ship midway through the mission and they have to listen to a new voice moving forward.
Of course, they’re professionals and should be able to readjust. But they’re also humans with emotions and all. All it will take is one bad game and that could be the difference between ending the campaign with silverware or empty-handed. Crucial games such as those against Arsenal and Chelsea in the different competitions could be such.
The bottom line is, while change is a constant in the game (as with life in general), it’s important to plan for it and make it at the right time. The decision to move Cushing to New York City FC may not be questionable, but the timing could have been better.