Aussie Montemurro opens up on being linked to England, Matildas jobs

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Coveted coach Joe Montemurro says he’s "humbled" to have his name linked with the England and Matildas jobs, but insists there have been no formal approaches from either nation.

Having transformed the fortunes of Arsenal Women in England’s star-studded WSL, the 50-year-old Australian was targeted to take charge of world champions USA last September, in a sign of his mushrooming stature.

And now he’s been hailed by English media as the favourite to succeed outgoing Phil Neville at the helm of the Lionesses.

“The England job is an interesting one and it comes with a high profile,” Montemurro told The World Game.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of good coaches going for it, and there are a lot of good English coaches out there.

“It’s hard to really think about things like this until they’re formally presented to you, but of course it would be an absolute honour to take a nation of that stature into any of the big tournaments.

“Likewise for the Matildas, which is a again a job of great stature and just to be there speculated about is always nice for the ego.

“I’m humbled to be talked about for these type of positions. These are jobs you’d consider if the opportunity was there.”

Montemurro’s name is never far from the discussion when there’s an opening with the Matildas - especially now with a June 25 FIFA vote to decide whether Australia’s joint 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup hosting bid is successful.

In terms of Montemurro potentially taking charge, much could depend on whether incumbent Ante Milicic indicates a willingness to forgo his position with A-League newcomers Macarthur FC and seek to remain with the national team.

Asked whether he’d go for green and gold or the There Lions were both roles placed on the table simultaneously, Montemurro replied: “If it does get a bit more solid in terms of offers or official approaches, that’s when you start to think about what the best option might be.

“Its just nice to be thought of in these realms. There are good and positive things about both nations and things they both need to work on.

“The Matildas are a stable and experienced team, whereas England are a team that has a very good base of young players coming through.

“They both have their strong points and obviously things they need to improve on.

“But in all this I’m very happy at Arsenal and I’m enjoying the project there.”

England are looking to prepare for three big tournaments - next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games, the 2022 European Championships and 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Former Manchester United defender Neville has indicated his desire to depart ahead of his contract expiration date in 2022, while Montemurro is officially tied to Arsenal until 2023.

“I think England will want to get somebody in there to get everything ready for the Olympic Games next year and possibly the quicker they find somebody the better so that Phil can maybe look for other scenario,” Montemurro said.

“I’m not sure if he wants to hang around for a few practice games. He probably wants to get on with his career too.

“Phil’s done a fantastic job and I’m quite surprised the England set-up are not following through with him but it’s also understandable in this current scenario in terms of timing (the uncertainty around COVID-19).

Reflecting on the previous offer from the USA, Montemurro said: “My name seems to have been flying around everywhere which is quite interesting. I don’t know why.

“The USA job was one that was quite flattering but the timing of when they wanted me to start my role just didn’t work with Arsenal. It was just one we couldn’t make happen.”

Currently back in his hometown of Melbourne, Montemurro expects to return to London in June to prepare for the completion of the UEFA Champions League, with Arsenal - now home to Matildas striker Caitlin Foord - facing PSG in the last eight.

Foord made just two appearances prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

“We have some of the best players in the world in the WSL and it’s very exciting platform,” Montemurro said.

“Caitlin Foord is showing signs of the quality player she is and was a very important player for us in the League Cup final which we lost 2-1 Chelsea.

“We hope to see a lot more from her.”