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2015 Women's World Cup

Foresight is 2020: John Herdman signs 4-year extension with Canada

Canada coach John Herdman is locked in with Canada through 2020, but as importantly for the CSA, he won't be tempted into the England job. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

Sorry, England – this Englishman isn’t going anywhere.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced Thursday that women’s national team coach John Herdman had reached an agreement to remain in charge through 2020, adding to a deal that previously ended in 2016.

That’s quite an investment and speaks volumes about Herdman’s ability, but seven years from now – on top of the two Herdman has already been with the team – seems…well, long.

If Herdman stays with Canada the entire length of the contract, that’s two full Olympic and World Cup cycles he’ll guide the team through, in addition to last year’s bronze medal-producing Olympics.

The announcement is clearly a sign that the CSA believes in the 38-year-old, but it also sends a firm message across the pond that his services aren’t available. England are in need of a new coach after ending Hope Powell’s 15-year tenure last month. Herdman’s name – along with former WPS coach and Englishman Paul Riley – has been linked to the job, and Herdman didn’t exactly deny interest during previous interviews.

Powell’s time in charge of England shows how even successful, respected managers can outlast their welcome. The Three Lionesses didn’t make it out of the group stage at Euro 2013. It is not uncommon for a coach to last only one cycle, that being a World Cup and an Olympics. The really good ones get through two cycles.

No Canada women’s national team coach has been in charge longer than eight years, when Norwegian Even Pellerud (current Norway coach) managed the squad from 2000-2008, which included a fourth place finish at the 2003 World Cup, still the only time Canada has made it out of the group stage.

So Herdman’s task, quite simply, is to win, but the details of how much and at what level will be acceptable remain private between him and the CSA. Expectations are higher than ever with the 2015 World Cup on home soil for Canada, and that is saying something given how high spirits were ahead of the 2011 World Cup, when Canada – drawn into the Group of Death with Germany, France and Nigeria – finished dead last.

Herdman may stay with Canada until 2020, but to predict what anyone will be doing seven years from now is beyond a stretch. Canada’s performance in 2015 will largely answer that question.

Clearly Herdman is happy with where he is at and whatever the final contract details were.

What Thursday’s announcement says is less about Herdman being locked down for seven years and more about Canada standing by their young, talented and sought-after coach ahead of this World Cup push. And telling England to look elsewhere.

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