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Casey Stoney shocked her players on Wednesday by announcing she was stepping down as manager of Manchester United Women. The former England international had tried to quit weeks ago and the club repeatedly attempted to persuade her to continue.

It is understood tensions between manager and club have been building for a while, and that training facilities were part of that. Training was moved from Leigh Sports Village to Carrington in recent weeks after concerns were raised about injuries that have hampered United’s season. The US World Cup winner Tobin Heath, Leah Galton, Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and Lucy Staniforth have had lengthy spells out.

At Carrington the squad have had to fit around the men’s schedule, which was one of the reasons Stoney decided against running the team from there when she took charge in 2018. It is not clear where training will be held next season. United had said in 2018 that they would improve facilities for the women’s team at The Cliff, the former men’s team training ground, but that has not happened.

The club have also been discussing the future of club houses for players, though those talks are understood to be routine. Stoney, who has 130 caps, will leave after United’s final game of the season, against Leicester in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday. The players are understood to have been stunned when they learned of her intention about an hour before it was made public.

Stoney had been a member of Phil Neville’s England backroom staff before she took on the task of putting together United’s newly formed senior side. The team won promotion to the Women’s Super League at the first attempt in 2019 and then finished fourth in the top division after the season was ended early by the pandemic. This season United have again finished fourth, missing out on Champions League qualification, something Stoney had said she would consider “a personal failure”.

The team were unbeaten until 17 January, when a 2-1 defeat by Chelsea knocked them off the top. They endured a further four defeats in 11 games as their title challenge unravelled and hopes of Champions League football were all but ended by a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in March.

“It has been an honour to lead the women’s team at this great club and this has been an incredibly tough decision,” said Stoney. “I have loved leading this group and I am proud of what we have achieved together. However, after a difficult season with disruption caused by the pandemic, I now feel the time is right to take some time away and for someone else to come in and lead the team on the next stage of its journey.”

John Murtough, the football director, said: “Manchester United is completely committed to its women’s team and to building on the legacy of Casey’s achievements as we move forwards. With the recent historic first game at Old Trafford and the impact the team has made in the Women’s Super League, the future is bright. While we will be sad to see Casey leave, the team and the operation will continue to go from strength to strength.”