Phil Neville: England women’s boss to leave role next summer

Tim Daniels Soccer

Phil Neville – pictured with England international Jordan Nobbs – played 59 times for England

Phil Neville is to leave his role as England women’s manager next summer.

The 43-year-old former Manchester United and Everton defender was appointed in January 2018 on a contract until the summer of 2021.

He led the Lionesses to a first SheBelieves Cup success and a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in 2019.

But since last year’s quarter-final win over Norway, they have lost seven of 11 games and failed to retain their SheBelieves Cup title in March.

Neville, a former England international, had been set to lead Team GB into this summer’s Olympic Games, before taking control of the Lionesses at the Women’s Euros on home soil in 2021.

But that tournament is moving to July 2022.

Despite recent results, Neville has retained the support of the Football Association. The decision about his future has come about because of coronavirus and its impact on the women’s football calendar.

Ideally, the FA wants the continuity of the same person taking both the GB side through the Tokyo Olympics and England to the Euros and the 2023 World Cup.

The postponements of the Olympics and Euros give the FA time to appoint a new manager and refresh the playing squad before that run of major tournaments.

After the SheBelieves Cup, at which England lost to World Cup winners the United States and also Spain, Neville said he would walk away if he felt he was not “motivated enough” to continue.

He also said: “I think we need to take a step back now and start building the foundations again – getting back to the brilliant basics.”

Lionesses ‘not good enough’ – Neville after defeat by Spain

Neville held a number of coaching roles in the men’s game before his first managerial appointment to the England job.

He is understood to have enjoyed his time in women’s football and could look to remain in the game. The Manchester City job is vacant following the departure of Nick Cushing to New York City.

Neville’s brother Gary told Sky Sports that “Phil was a little surprised” the news on his future had emerged but expects the FA to make a statement soon to “put some clarity around it”.

“He’s got 14 months left on his contract and obviously the Olympics and European Championship were within that period,” he said.

“The problem is now obviously with coronavirus, those tournaments have been taken out of the period and international managers’ contracts run to tournament ends.

“If the tournaments have gone, then you’ve got a real problem in the sense that you’re just coaching friendlies. I think that’s the situation that’s developed.”

How successful was Neville?

How Neville compares to former England manager Mark Sampson
ManagerPWLWin %
Phil Neville35191154%
Mark Sampson59381364%

Analysis – Alistair Magowan, BBC Sport

It might sound harsh, but in purely footballing terms, Neville’s reign feels like a failed experiment.

He was largely untested as a manager when he was appointed in 2018, but the FA spoke of how his “winning mentality” would take England to the next level, having reached semi-finals in their past two major tournaments.

Instead, it could be argued England have gone backwards. The SheBelieves Cup win in 2019 was a high point, and the Lionesses came close to making the World Cup final later that summer, but things have unravelled since.

He still had the backing of the FA, but he will leave with a feeling of unfulfilled promise.

That will hurt a dedicated and meticulous professional who never quite brought the best out of his team.

Women’s World Cup 2019: England’s highs and lows of France 2019

The key dates in Neville’s reign

  • 23 Jan 2018: Appointed England head coach, signing a contract until end of Euro 2021.
  • 24 Jan 2018: Apologises for historical controversial tweets about women. Is not charged by FA.
  • 1 Mar 2018: Makes managerial debut at SheBelievesCup, with England beating France 4-1 in opening match. They go on to finish runners-up.
  • 23 Mar 2018: Lionesses move up to second in Fifa world rankings, their best position and highest of an England team.
  • Aug-Sep 2018: England qualify for 2019 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Wales, before thrashing Kazakhstan 6-0 to conclude unbeaten qualifying campaign.
  • Feb-Mar 2019: Wins over Brazil and Japan and draw with the USA mean England win SheBelievesCup for first time.
  • Jun-Jul 2019: England reach semi-final of World Cup for second time in a row before losing to eventual winners USA. They then lose to Sweden in what Neville describes as “a nonsense game” to finish fourth.
  • Mar 2020: England fail to retain SheBelieves Cup with defeat by Spain in their final match a seventh loss in 11 games. Neville says questions about his future are “totally” acceptable.
  • 22 Apr 2020: News emerges Neville will leave role next summer.