Marc Skinner admitted his transition to become the Orlando Pride’s next head coach was a swift process.
Skinner found out about the Pride head coaching position sometime before Christmas, during which he was Birmingham City WFC’s manager. Toward the start of January, however, everything was solidified and it was only a matter of time before it became official.
Skinner soon handed in his resignation at Birmingham, and on Monday he was announced as the Pride’s new coach ahead of the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Talking for the the first time on Friday during a media round table at Orlando City Stadium, Skinner said he knows the challenges the job will bring.
But his overall goal is to affect his players on-and-off the pitch.
“I’m not just here to coach a shape and put it on the field, I’m here to affect people and affect players to make them better,” said Skinner. “Regardless of their stature within the game, we have a short fall of players within — if all are selected hopefully for the World World — my job is to make sure the guys are holding the fort while they’re already playing and improving. If I can do that, we’ll be fine during that short period.”
Skinner is inheriting a star-studded Pride squad that features U.S. Soccer and Concacaf player of the year Alex Morgan, FIFA The Best player of 2018 and Brazilian star Marta and a slew of Brazilian and Australian international players — A good chunk of the Pride starting lineup that could potentially go away during this summer’s FIFA World Cup in France.
But that isn’t the only challenge Skinner will face. In a league he’s not very familiar with, the 35-year-old Englishman is relishing at the opportunity of coaching in the best women’s league in the world.
“You could watch games, but there’s also a feeling of what’s inside the game — what’s it like and the emotion,” Skinner said about his thoughts about coaching in the NWSL.
“Having watched it, it’s the best, most-intense, physical league in the world, in my opinion,” he added. “For me, I’ve got to look at ways where we can control that physical battle to ensure we have a way of playing around that. I’ve watched — near enough — all of the games that Orlando has played, but I’ve got to do so much work than that. I gotta be watching all the other teams as well.”
Skinner said he’s familiar with Utah Royals head coach Laura Harvey, where both at one point worked together at Birmingham City, but Skinner’s partner Laura Bassett and Harvey are also from the same village in Bulkington, Warwickshire, England.
The Pride coach is only in Orlando for a few days. He’ll go back to England to work out his visa paperwork before returning to Florida permanently ahead of preseason camp, which begins on March 4.
Skinner added there has been initial contact with his players through email, in which he’s sent a questionnaire about what they’re like as people with a deadline to respond by Jan. 31. Skinner said he has heard back.
As for his coaching staff, Skinner said his assistants have been identified and have signed with the team, but due to outside reasons, they can’t be announced yet.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando Pride)
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