Aston Villa have confirmed several departures less than 24 hours after they secured survival in their maiden Women’s Super League season.
The club started with the expected announcement that interim manager Marcus Bignot had left the club at 9 AM on Monday morning. The former Birmingham City boss only had a contract until the end of the season and, given that he also works two other jobs, it is unsurprising that he left.
However, they later confirmed the surprise departure of head coach Gemma Davies and her assistant Jenny Sugarman. Davies had control over first team affairs until the arrival of Bignot in January and has been at the helm since 2018. Sugarman arrived as her assistant a year later and the duo have been very popular with players and fans alike since then.
A new start
It was a difficult start to life in the WSL for Villa, who only secured survival on the final day of the season. A change of direction was unsurprising given the ambition of Villa’s owners, but many fans were left disgruntled regardless.
Many believed the arrival of Bignot following a 7-0 defeat to Manchester City was simply a move to help Davies out. She is just 29 years old, and this was her first solo season in the WSL. Meanwhile, Bignot had been managing at this level while he was still playing and had experience in the men’s game with Solihull Moors and Grimsby Town. However, it has not played out that way and fans have taken to social media to voice their discontent.
Gemma Davies is a class act, any team would be lucky to have her , real shame she’s not involved anymore , good luck Gemma!— Steve Watson (@SteveWatson21) May 10, 2021
Hope this doesn't prove to be a mistake. Hanging on to Dean Smith paid dividends, I think the same would have been said of Gemma 😕— #WakeTheDragon🏴 #6612 (@ClaretKev1980) May 10, 2021
More to come?
Sandwiched in between these two announcements was the news that Villa’s star player Mana Iwabuchi is on her way out of the club.
Villa pulled off a coup in beating Arsenal to her signature in January, but it seems that the 2011 World Cup winner is off to North London regardless. Telegraph reporter Tom Garry confirmed that Arsenal were “closing in” on the signing around midday. With much of the first team out of contract this summer, Villa will need a massive overhaul if they are to survive a second season at the top level.