Captain Steph Houghton hopes England hang on to manager Mark Sampson after his tactical ingenuity guided the Lionesses to third place at the Women’s World Cup.
Sampson was plucked from Women’s Super League side Bristol Academy barely 18 months ago to lead an England side still reeling from a shocking performance at the European Championship.
He has led a regeneration of the squad, to the point where England finished the World Cup as Europe’s top side, following their third-place play-off win over Germany in Edmonton.
Welshman Sampson is just 32, and his stock has risen rapidly. He never played football professionally, but learned the trade in his home country, initially at university, going on to head up Swansea’s centre of excellence by his mid-twenties.
Success with England Women will mean Sampson has caught many an eye, but he signed a four-year contract with the Football Association in December 2013 and has shown no desire to go anywhere else.
Houghton said: “We all want Mark to stay. It’s shown in this tournament what a great manager and coach he is, to be able to change our tactics from game to game and adjust our game plan depending on who we’ve been playing and give that element of surprise to the opposition.
“On a personal note he’s believed in me as a player and as a captain, as well as the rest of the girls, and we want him to stay and hopefully he will.”
Sampson has beckoned into his squad players who fell ostracised under previous boss Hope Powell, including World Cup stars Katie Chapman, Jodie Taylor and Lianne Sanderson. During the World Cup he repeatedly made wholesale changes to his team line-ups.
England might have reached yesterday’s final were it not for the unfortunate own goal scored by Laura Bassett in stoppage time against Japan.
That semi-final setback was forgotten on Saturday night as England celebrated taking home bronze medals.
Fara Williams’s extra-time penalty gave them their win over Germany.
England had never beaten Germany in 20 previous attempts, but Sampson’s side matched their opponents throughout the 90 minutes of normal play.
When Tabea Kemme fouled Lianne Sanderson, it was Williams who claimed the glory with 12 minutes to play.
Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley had made two stunning saves to keep the scores level.