As COVID-19 stings Men’s EURO 2020 with a year-long postponement, the women’s competition is also expected to be pushed back 12 months, to 2022.
England boss Phil Neville has 15 months left on his contract, which would’ve been enough to see him manage Team GB at this year’s Olympics and the Lionesses at EURO 2021, had the Coronavirus not caused major disruption across the sporting calendar.
Earlier this week, we asked our Twitter followers if they still wanted to see him in charge at the tournament that looks set to finally get underway in 2022.
78% said no.
Is the #NevilleOut brigade justified?
Since England were knocked out of last year’s World Cup by the USWNT, they’ve lost seven out of a possible eleven games, and although the on-pitch problems shouldn’t be ignored, Neville’s pre-match decisions have raised eyebrows.
Thanks to the SheBelieves Cup, England have played three games so far this year, losing two and winning one in the process. Over just three games, Neville started a total of 20 players. From England’s starting XI that lined up against the USA, to the one that faced Japan, he made six changes. From the team that won 1-0 against Japan, to the team that lost 1-0 to Spain, he made a total of eight changes. And from that he started against the USA, to the team he put up against Spain, there was yet again six changes. The constant switching up of teams led the majority of Lionesses fans to one conclusion: Neville has no idea what his strongest team is.
It could be argued that the England boss was using the SheBelieves tournament as an audition process for the upcoming Olympic Games and EURO 2021, now 2022, but something to do with Neville banning Olympic talk whilst over in America something tells me that wasn’t his original plan.
As the post-World Cup blues settled last summer after England failed to secure a third-place finish against the Swedes, Neville faced criticism as he neglected the opportunity to integrate younger, fresher members of the squad into his starting XIs throughout the tournament. With youthful players that had had a sparkling WSL 18/19 campaign left on the bench, Lionesses fans were left bored of Neville’s evermore predictable set-up
What seems to be the case now, however, is a panicked Neville trying to please everyone. His obstinate attitude toward team selection in last year’s World Cup has evolved into what comes across as a “close your eyes, point and hope for the best” approach in choosing his starting XI. With his severe lack of consistency, Lionesses fans now have the right to hold him to account and question his abilities in taking this England team to the next level.
Upon Neville’s appointment back in 2018, he told the media that, “This squad is on the verge of something special and I believe I can lead them to the next level.”
However, since then, despite winning one SheBelieves Cup, England have experienced their worst stretch of results since 2003 with their recent form of seven out of 11 losses.
Although the recent SheBelieves Cup performance seemed like the final nail in the coffin, with the Olympics and EURO 2021 just around the corner, it felt inevitable that Neville would see his contract out in full before making way for a fresh new manager. However, with the postponement of both tournaments and the country in lockdown, is now not a better time than any for the FA to undertake a, shall we call it, spring clean?
With Neville’s contract up next summer, on what grounds can the FA possibly argue to offer him an extension? Never has a decline in form, a string of poor results and a lack of squad understanding led to another few years in charge of a national team.
Undoubtedly, Neville has help ramped up the Lionesses’ profile. England Women are now household names, and it wasn’t the case before he was in charge. I’m not saying that Phil Neville single-handedly propelled the Lionesses to top of the sports media podium, but if he’s done anything since taking the job, then he certainly played a part in putting them there – whether he intended to or not. However, unfortunately for him, sold-out Wembley and increased viewing figures don’t necessarily equal a contract extension.
If the FA really do give Neville the boot come summer 2021, who could we see instead? With 78% of you wanting a change next year, we want to know who you want to see take over. Make sure you vote on our poll and Tweet us with your thoughts.