What to make of the decision to hire Phil Neville as the new England women's head coach

by Jack Kitson / 24 January 2018, 09:47

Ryan Giggs ventured into the managerial arena with Wales last week, Steven Gerrard is the Liverpool U18s boss, Frank Lampard is the scorching hot favourite for the Oxford United job, and now Phil Neville has been appointed the new England women’s head coach.

Neville, whose contract runs through to 2021, takes over from interim boss Mo Marley who had overseen the first team following Mark Sampson’s sacking back in September.

It’s fair to say that reaction to the news has been mixed - here’s all you need to know about the surprise appointment.

Why Phil Neville?

It’s undoubtedly a high-profile appointment for the women’s game, given Neville’s achievements as a player. During his career the 41-year-old won 14 trophies with Man Utd, including six Premier League titles, while he bagged 59 caps for England.

In terms of managerial experience Neville may only have one sole game in charge of Salford on his CV - the club he co-owns - but he has worked as an assistant at Man Utd, Valencia, and the England U21 team, while his coaching credentials have been widely praised.

Meanwhile, his “enthusiasm, passion, and desire for the role,” is what impressed the Football Association's director of women's football, Baroness Sue Campbell.

So what’s the controversy?

The recruitment process has been condemned following reports that Neville originally became a candidate for the position after a broadcaster jokingly mentioned his name in a conversation with FA chiefs at a Christmas party...we stress that these are unconfirmed reports.

Neville’s lack of actual managerial experience has been criticised, while his knowledge and understanding of the women’s game has instantly been questioned.

A number of other candidates, with vastly more experience, were either; overlooked, ruled themselves due to the intense media scrutiny that now surrounds the role, committed themselves to new contracts, or opted for other jobs in the women’s game.

However, the major controversy surrounding the appointment revolves around unearthed tweets (2012) from Neville’s Twitter account (see below), with the new boss subsequently deleting his account.

When’s his first game?

There’s already speculation that Neville’s tenure is over before it’s even began, however we find this unlikely.

Should, as expected, he remain at the helm then his first taste of action comes in the form of March’s SheBelieves Cup, where England face France, Germany and hosts United States, who like the Lionesses (third) currently feature in the top-6 of the FIFA Rankings.

Further down the line Neville will be tasked with leading the Lionesses through to the 2019 World Cup in France.

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