Carla Ward: Aston Villa boss on ‘one last dance’ on WSL final day

Carla Ward: Aston Villa boss on 'one last dance' on WSL final day
Carla Ward managing Aston VillaGetty Images

Aston Villa manager Carla Ward will have “one last dance” when she leads her side out for the final time against Manchester City at Villa Park, as the Women’s Super League season comes to an end on Saturday.

It will cap off a successful three years at the club, in which Ward led Villa to their highest ever WSL finish – fifth in 2022-23 – and two domestic cup semi-finals.

Ward, mother to four-year-old Hartley, departs a year before her contract was due to expire “to prioritise other important things – such as family life”.

“If you had told me that after three years I would have the full support of the club, players and the fans, I would have laughed,” said Ward.

“We have been through a lot and are so tight-knit. I have never felt support quite like it and that’s why I love the club, and will forever love the club. Who knows what the future will hold now.”

Ward says there are “ongoing discussions” about her potentially staying at Villa in a role off the pitch, but does not know what that will look like yet.

But what she does know is that she leaves Villa having developed as a coach and with “immense pride” at the job she has done.

“When I came into this club there was one cabin outside that had a changing room, gym and a staff office. Now we’ve got a big building here, a couple of others outside, our own gym, player areas and have maximised on and off the pitch massively,” added Ward.

“We have attracted some of the best players in the women’s game and we’ve put Aston Villa on the map. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved here.

“We’ve had some great times. It’s one last dance at the weekend.”

‘You really think I’m going to park the bus?’

Carla Ward celebrates victory over Man City

Getty Images

The ending of Ward’s latest chapter could not have been written any better.

Villa host a Manchester City side who go into Saturday’s game level on points with Chelsea – both knowing they could win the title on goal difference on the final day.

It is a blockbuster fixture, to be shown live on BBC Two at 15:00 BST and played in front of a strong crowd at Villa Park.

So what would the perfect send-off be for Ward?

“Three points. We like playing against Manchester City. The last few years we’ve had some good games against them,” said Ward.

“They are a team that play in a way that I love. We want to win the game. It’s as simple as that. I couldn’t care less about what goes on elsewhere, I just care about trying to get maximum points.”

Ward also laughed off any notion that her side would “park the bus” and try to reduce City’s goal difference.

“My take is that they have to try to come and win by four goals. Have we ever parked the bus against Manchester City? I think you know the answer to that,” she added.

“We haven’t, we’ve always played in our way against City and it’s been an enjoyable game. You really think I’m going to park the bus in my last game?

“I want to go out on a high. I want to attack the game. That’s what we’ll do.”

The WSL title will be awarded to Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side or Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City squad. Both are managers Ward respects greatly.

“May the best team win. They have both had exceptional seasons. But honestly, I care about going out on my own high, making sure we conduct ourselves in the right way and get something from it.

“Whoever wins [the title] come 5pm on Saturday will be deserving of it. Whoever misses out will feel hard done by – but that’s football. We’re not there to help one or the other, only to try and get three points.”

Related Topics

  • Football
  • Women’s Football
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