Neville under pressure as England crash out of SheBelieves Cup

With speculation mounting over Phil Neville's future as England manager after his side crashed out of the SheBelieves Cup, Stanley Gilyead decides whether he deserves the sack.

Stanley Gilyead
17th March 2020
Image: Instagram @frankirbydaily, England were disappointed with their performances in the recent SheBelieves Cup.
Speculation surrounds Phil Neville's future as England manager this week as his team crashed out of the SheBelieves Cup after winning only one game. The FA are expected to back Neville at least until next year's Euros, but with England having lost seven of their last eleven games Neville must find a way to improve performances or face the chop.

Neville became England manager in January 2018 and enjoyed a successful start to the job. In his first year in charge England came second in the SheBelieves Cup and qualified for the 2019 World Cup undefeated. The following year saw Neville clinch his first silverware as England manager as they won the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

The most important summer of Neville's managerial career came last year with the World Cup in France. Whilst England put in a respectable performance, getting knocked out in the semi finals before losing to Sweden in the third place play-off, they were judged by many to have underachieved. Despite coming into the tournament as one of the favourites England never hit the heights of the winning USA side.

England's World Cup exit signalled the start of a torrid run of form that has left Phil Neville fearing for his job. They have won only three games since the tournament, beating Portugal and the Czech Republic in friendlies and Japan in the recent SheBelieves Cup. Neville was quick to admit that England's recent performances have not been up to scratch after their loss to Spain, stating "I've got to start earning my coin, being a better manager- and the results need to improve".

The FA are understood to be persisting with Neville despite performances on the pitch due to their belief in his "two-year plan" to build a younger squad in the period between last year's World Cup and next year's Euros. 19 year old Lauren Hemp was impressive in back to back starts in the SheBelieves Cup, whilst Neville singled out 22 year old Everton forward Chloe Kelly and 21 year old Alessia Russo for praise, stating "two players got me off my seat- Chloe Kelly and Alessia Russo".

Whilst promising performances from young players gives England hope, and will probably help keep Neville in the job, there are serious questions around whether Neville's tactics get the best out of the squad. Neville has stuck steadfastly to his preferred possession style of football, despite England seeming to struggle to adapt to it, repeatedly giving the ball away whilst passing out from the back. England also look weak when defending set pieces and crosses, ten of the last eighteen goals they have conceded have come from these routes, drawing into question whether Neville is able to coach out the weaker points of his team's game, or whether he is simply too pig-headed to try.

Neville's appointment seemed a strange one from the start. The former Everton and Manchester United right back had never worked in the women's game before and had only briefly experienced management in a short spell as Salford's caretaker manager. Neville only got the job after Emma Hayes, Nick Cushing, Laura Harvey and John Herdman, all highly successful coaches in the women's game, dropped out of the running. A successful start calmed nerves around his appointment and he should have enough credit in the bank to be allowed to lead the Lionesses into next years Euros, but it is increasingly looking like a poor showing in that tournament will spell the end of Neville's tenure in charge of the national side.

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