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Phil Neville turns 43 years old

Taking a look at Phil Neville's coaching career with England on his birthday

January 21, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
Phil Neville turns 43 years old today. Feel old yet? Because I do.

 

I never saw Neville playing for Manchester United since I was just nine years old by the time he parted ways with his boyhood club. But I do have slight memories of him wearing that blue, Chang sponsored jersey as he covered Everton’s right side of defense until the end of his playing career in 2013. I never thought much of him as a player even though he transmitted a sense of leadership. He was just one of those guys who got the job done.

He has also shown that he can get the job done in his tenure with the England women’s team as head coach. But is getting the job done just enough?

The former Everton captain took charge of the Lionesses in January 2018 debuting at the SheBelieves Cup just weeks after his appointment. England went on to win its opening match against France 4-1, but a 2-2 draw against Germany and a 1-0 defeat to the UNWNT saw them finish second.

Neville followed-up the SheBelieves Cup with a near-flawless 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification only drawing once against Wales and winning the remaining seven.

England returned to the SheBelieves Cup in 2019 and won it. Two victories against Brazil and Japan and a draw against the hosts was enough to claim first place. Neville got the job done and by this, I mean that he and his squad improved.

But to win a World Cup, a national team needs to do more than just get the job done. The team has to go above and beyond in all stages of the competition. England looked to be doing just that in its first five matches of the competition finishing first place in Group D and defeating Cameroon and Norway 3-0 each in the round-of-16 and quarter-final. Nonetheless, it all crumbled when the USWNT defeated the Lionesses 2-1 in a dramatic semi-final where England could have leveled in the 84th minute if it wasn’t for Alyssa Naeher’s penalty block. The boat sunk even deeper after losing the third-place match to Sweden 2-1 followed by his famous claim that the bronze medal match is a “nonsense game.”

Despite the arrogant comments after their fourth-place finish, which he eventually admitted he was in the wrong in saying so, Neville and England have attempted to improve but haven’t looked good enough. They have lost three, drawn one and won two since the World Cup. The losses came against Brazil Germany and Norway, three teams that are at their level of quality. You have to beat your toughest opponents to win tournaments and this is something Neville is struggling to do.

The Englishman will lead the lionesses to their fifth SheBelieves Cup appearance for a chance to clean up their latest record against the likes of Japan, Spain and the USWNT.


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