Phil Neville admits to pressure to end dire run by England Women | Football


Phil Neville refused to lay any blame on his players after defeat against Germany ensured a fifth loss in seven games for the Lionesses and pressure continued to mount on the manager.

“No, never,” he replied when asked if he felt let down by players who were not translating reportedly strong training-ground work into matchday performances. “I’d go to my grave with these players and their attitudes. And that’s why I want to take responsibility. Obviously, my performances haven’t been good enough and you can see that with the results we’ve got.”

The bruising run, which began with defeat against the US in their World Cup semi-final, left Neville post‑match conceding for the first time that England had regressed since France. “There is no hiding from that fact,” he had said.

At Wembley, England reverted at times to the pragmatic counterattacking football of the Mark Sampson era. Neville said: “Our tactic was to go away from the style of performance we have promoted and play more direct. There were probably more forward balls played down the side today than have ever been played under my tenure.

“As a manager you want to live and die by your beliefs but ultimately the run that we are on means something has to change. Performance levels have to change and it is up to me to find that formula.”

Neville pointed to the long process of changing the way the Lionesses’ play, rather than the style of football itself, as the reason for their on-field difficulties. “We are being punished for mistakes, for the expansiveness of our style, but we need to get better because the mistakes are coming not because of the shape we are in but little technical errors that we are working on all the time.

“I am hoping and what we are working on is that the DNA we want to set into the players eventually, at the big occasion, whether at the Olympics, Euro 2021 or the World Cup in 2023, will be embedded.”

The “England DNA” being injected into national team football at all levels, men’s and women’s, is, according to Neville, “the right way to play”. He said: “It is the way Gareth [Southgate] is playing, that I am playing, that the pathway coaches are playing on both sides, it is what we believe in. I do think it is the right way to play football, it is just that we need to get better at it and better at it faster than we are at the moment.”

The decision, then, to revert is a strange one. After England’s 2-1 defeat to Brazil at the Riverside Stadium, Neville said: “I still believe in what we are doing and so do the players.”

Neville has been unshakable in his insistence that England stick to style. Even when preparing to face the eventual world champions the USA he said: “My style’s non-negotiable, I’m afraid, I’m a bit stubborn. We’re not going to change our style. We believe it’s the best way to get success.”

The risk now is the change in narrative – a shaking of that belief in the style bringing success – will leave the players questioning and disinvesting in Neville’s plan. If he does not believe it wholeheartedly, why should they buy in?

Beth Mead’s answer to the question of whether England had gone backwards hinted at a need to rewrite the manual a little. “Everyone needs to take ownership of our performances, both individually and as a collective at the moment, and go back to the drawing board.”

Whatever Neville does he will do it with the same crop – wholesale personnel changes are not on the cards “because of the depth”. He said: “If you make five or six changes you have to bring five or six players in, the players below have got to still reach the level required and that is the push now we want to give players who are not in the starting XI.

“Now we need to get to where we were before the World Cup. Instead of having six, seven, eight players at a certain level before the World Cup we had 15, 16, 17, now we have dropped in terms of performance levels and we need to get them back up.”


Source link

The Russian adventurer who is heading to the stratosphere

Patanjali open to deals with MNCs: CEO