Phil Neville still aiming high despite decision to leave England role in 2021


England Women manager will leave next year.

Phil Neville will leave his role as England Women’s head coach next summer – and believes there remains “plenty to work on” before he leaves.

After surprisingly being announced as Mark Sampson’s successor in January 2018, the 43-year-old led the Lionesses to the World Cup semi-finals last summer having won the SheBelieves Cup earlier in the year.

Neville retained the Football Association’s backing despite England losing seven of their last 11 matches in all competitions, but the former Manchester United and Everton player will not be extending his contract beyond 2021.

His deal was set to take in the Women’s European Championship, but UEFA’s confirmation of the tournament being delay until 2022 due to the coronavirus crisis means he will no longer be in the hotseat for it.

The FA said, in the wake of that news, Neville had “confirmed he’s committed to honouring the full term of his contract, which will see him leave the role in July 2021”, with the Lionesses boss still focused on the job at hand.

“As a result of the changes to the proposed tournament scheduling, we’ll now be working to plan for a revised match calendar once it’s safe and appropriate to do so,” the outgoing England boss said.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work with the team as soon as possible.

“We have a fantastic squad of players and there is plenty to work on as we look to progress as a team going into 2021.”

As well as leading the Lionesses into Euro 2021, Neville had been set to lead Team GB women’s side at this summer’s Olympic Games.

But, like the Euros, the Tokyo Games have been pushed back a year due to Covid-19 and FA director of women’s football Sue Campbell says that is one of the matters that needs looking at.

“In light of the impact of current global events on the sporting calendar and in the best interests of the England Women’s team, both parties were in agreement that our shared priority was to ensure the Lionesses have continuity of coaching going into the home Euro and looking towards the 2023 FIFA World Cup,” she said.

“Once football returns after this difficult period, Phil will continue his work with the Lionesses on the further development of his squad.

FA director of women's football Sue Campbell has plenty to ponder
FA director of women’s football Sue Campbell has plenty to ponder (Nick Potts/PA)

“I will support him fully with that important task while moving forward with the crucial succession planning process.

“We’ll now discuss next steps with the British Olympic Association and the home nations with regard to Team GB football and we’re not in a position to make any further comment at this time.”

Jill Ellis, Emma Hayes and Casey Stoney are among the names to be linked with the England post after a period that left Alex Scott, capped 140 times by her country, frustrated.

“When Phil Neville took over as England manager the next step was to beat the best teams in the world and continue to do it on a consistent basis,” she told the BBC. “He was in that mindset too.

Alex Scott represented England 140 times
Alex Scott represented England 140 times (Mike Egerton/PA)

“But I struggle to look back and see what our standout performances were under him.

“At the World Cup last summer, there was the quarter-final win against Norway when everyone thought we were kicking into gear, but from there it just never really happened.

“We have been waiting to see where this team is going and ultimately we have struggled. There were more questions after every game than answers.

“England are not even competing with the best teams in the world now and that’s worrying for me.

England finished fourth at the 2019 Women's World Cup
England finished fourth at the 2019 Women’s World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Former managers Hope Powell and Mark Sampson put us in a position to compete with the best but Neville’s record against those top sides has been very bad.

“We have played nine teams ranked in the top five in the world and only won one.

“I had that saying as a player that you ‘always leave the shirt in a better place than when you found it’. We all gave him time to do that. But we didn’t see his philosophy adapt.”