SheBelieves Cup: England 0-1 Spain – Lionesses ‘not good enough’ admits boss Phil Neville
England manager Phil Neville said it was “totally” acceptable for people to question his position after defeat by Spain in their final SheBelieves Cup match – a seventh loss in 11 games.
Holders England conceded late to lose 1-0 in Frisco on Wednesday, six days after being beaten 2-0 by the USA.
They have scored just one goal in a narrow win over Japan.
“I’ve got to start earning my coin, being a better manager – and the results need to improve,” said Neville.
As well as winning the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, the Lionesses reached the World Cup semi-finals last year and Neville added: “We are still not performing to the levels – nowhere near the levels.
“Ultimately, we need to find the formula. I think we need to take a step back now and start building the foundations again – getting back to the brilliant basics.”
SheBelieves Cup highlights: England 0-1 Spain
Neville said he was “the most disappointed I’ve felt since getting the job” in an interview in which he reflected on his “frustration” and “anger” over England’s performance.
He also said the Football Association needs to do more to “protect” the players, who he has vowed to back “until the day I walk out of this job”.
“Ultimately, standards need to be better from everybody. That’s me as manager, that’s my FA backing us as a team and that’s my players on the pitch,” said Neville.
“We all need to accept that if we want what we all talk about then standards need to improve.”
Despite his frustration, Neville said he had “100% confidence in my own abilities as a manager” when asked if he remained the right man to take the team forward.
“I know 100% that I’ve got the backing and trust of the players,” he added. “We’ve got no games in April, no games in June – which is frustrating, because what the players gauge their success off is winning games of football and we’re not going to have that until September.
“We’ve got a long wait where we can start building the foundations for better form.”
‘I will shake everyone’s hands and say it’s not good enough’
Neville compared his under-pressure position to that of previous managers at Valencia where he worked as an assistant prior to taking the England women’s job.
“I went through five managers in Valencia with better records than I’ve got at this moment in time,” said Neville.
“David Moyes lost his job at Manchester United with probably a better record than I’ve got so I take responsibility.
“What I’ve said to the players is if I look at myself and I think I’m not getting up to the level or not challenging enough or I’m not motivated enough, then I’m the first one that will shake everyone’s hands, will give them a hug and will speak to whoever needs to be spoken to and say it’s not good enough.
“That’s how I feel at this moment in time. I do feel anger and frustration because I’m not seeing what I want to see.”
The players were emotional after Wednesday’s defeat and mirrored the reactions they showed following the World Cup third-fourth play-off loss to Sweden last year.
The Lionesses will next meet up in April for a training camp before Neville takes charge of a Team GB squad at the Olympics made up of players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘Three wins in nine games is awful’
Lionesses attacker Nikita Parris said the players should be the ones getting “absolutely hammered by the media” and not Neville.
“You have to be hard on us because ultimately we are the ones stepping out in that arena and not delivering. He’s putting in the work and we are not delivering for him,” said Parris.
The 26-year-old added that England have “got to find a way to get our feet back on track” and that too many of the players “are living off the hype of the World Cup”.
“It’s gone six, seven, eight months and we haven’t improved really, as a team we haven’t improved, individually we haven’t improved and we have to take responsibility,” said Parris.
“Phil [Neville] has protected us for far too long and ultimately we have got to step up.
“If you step onto that field with an England shirt on your back then you better be ready to deliver and I don’t think we have been.
“We haven’t delivered in the past seven, eight months – three wins in nine games is terrible, it’s awful.”