Just Say No To Phil Neville

Having been exposed to his inanity on Match of the Day, I’d say that as a general statement, but on this particular occasion, I mean “Just Say No To Phil Neville as England Manager”.

My objection to Phil Neville being England manager has nothing to do with his tweets. Admittedly, you’d think that, given that the last England Women’s manager was sacked for improprieties*, the FA would try to make sure the next one was squeaky clean but I can live with an idiot as manager.

What I object to is his complete lack of coaching experience.

A summary of Phil Neville’s coaching experience:

1 game, assistant coach, England U21s.
3 games, assistant coach, England U21s at the 2013 Euros. At the 2013 Euros, England finished bottom of a group containing Italy, Norway and Israel, scoring only 1 goal.
~ 18 games, assistant manager at Valencia. During this period, Valencia had their lowest win percentage ever.

You’ll notice the complete absence of head coach/manager experience.

In many way, the question to ask is not “is he the right choice for the England Women’s team?” but “is he the right choice for any England job?”

Would the people saying he’s fine for the Women’s job be okay with him managing the Men’s team? Probably not. Same for the U21s and possibly the U19s. At best, he’s acceptable for the male U17s and maybe U19s.

So, for some unknown reason, the FA have decided that the Women’s team can have a manager that they’d never appoint to most of the other national jobs.

The FA’s defence is that everyone else they’ve asked has turned them down. The BBC article I’ve linked mentions 3 other people.

Lets give the FA the benefit of the doubt. Lets presume they asked every manager in the two Women’s divisions in England, and all the managers of Women’s teams in Europe and North America who might be available before asking Phil Neville. What does it say about the situation that no one with experience wanted the role?

I doubt it’s because it’s a job in Women’s football. There are already female managers, and male managers of women’s football teams (and also a few managers that used to coach men’s teams that have switched).

I doubt it’s the players. They don’t seem to be bad, you know, 3rd at the last World Cup, semi-finals at the last Euros, haven’t lost horribly to Iceland. The Men’s team wishes it did that well.

So what is it?

Could it be that no one involved in Women’s football wants the England job because they know that they’re always going to be an afterthought and that the manager is going to be in an invidious position where, if they win stuff, it’s “only women’s football” and if they lose, it’s “why are we giving them money”?

The Lionesses are doing well despite the FA, and with another World Cup coming up, I worry that this choice of manager is going to derail the chances of them winning it.


* the FA were very unclear as to precisely what kind of “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” Mark Sampson committed at Bristol Academy, so I have just gone with impropriety.


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