England’s Lionesses failed to go out with a bang as they blundered to a 1-0 defeat against Spain in last night’s final SheBelieves Cup game.
Manager, Phil Neville, was left feeling “the most disappointed I’ve felt since getting the job” as his side failed to make an impact against SheBelieves debutants, Spain, last night. The Lionesses boss made eight changes from the side that beat Japan on Sunday but yesterday revealed post-match that he “expects better of a team I put on the field”.
England’s SheBelieves 2020 campaign has been a dire one. Neville’s questionable team selection for the opening game against the USA saw England’s tournament run start on the wrong foot, losing 2-0 to the World Champions.
Then came a lifeline in the name of Ellen White. The Man City striker saved another mediocre performance from extra scrutiny, putting the winner past Japan in the 83rd minute.
Last night was the final nail in the coffin for a campaign that the Lionesses will look to quickly forget. Despite an improved performance, England failed to convert any of their seven shots, and fell victim to newcomers Spain who were the more clinical side when it mattered most.
In addition to losing the opportunity to retain their SheBelieves title, England have now lost seven games in the last 11, having only one three matches since last year’s Women’s World Cup quarter-finals.
It’s this period of poor form that has left fans questioning whether Phil Neville is the right man for the job. Speaking to the BBC after yesterday’s loss, Neville said that he must start “being a better manager”, and that it was “totally” acceptable for people to question his position.
Neville has now been in charge for the past two years and has admitted that ‘we’re still not performing to the levels – nowhere near the levels,’ that he thinks his team should be.
When asked if he believed he was the correct man for the job, Neville said he had “100% confidence in my own abilities as a manager.” Despite his confidence, the manager admitted that “standards need to be better from everybody. Me as manager, my FA backing us as a team and my players on the pitch.”
The questions surrounding Neville’s future don’t seem to be quietening down, but Lionesses attacker Nikita Parris has assured that the team is completely behind their manager.
“You have to be hard on us because ultimately we are the ones stepping out in that arena and not delivering. He’s putting in the work and we are not delivering for him.”
The Lyon player went on to add that the players should be the ones getting “absolutely hammered by the media”, and not their manager.
“It’s gone six, seven, eight months and we haven’t improved really, as a team we haven’t improved, individually we haven’t improved and we have to take responsibility. [Our manager] has protected us for far too long and ultimately we have got to step up,” Parris added.
Following their defeat to Spain, the Lionesses flew back home overnight with a lot of the squad needing to be ready for this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final fixtures. With no upcoming matches in April, it could well be a while before the England team can regroup to work on how they overcome such a poor run of performances.