The key moments in Phil Neville’s three-year reign as he steps down as England Women boss

Phil Neville is stepping down after three years as England Women boss (John Walton/PA). (PA Archive)
13:49pm, Mon 18 Jan 2021
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Phil Neville’s tenure as England Women boss has come to an end after almost exactly three years in the job.

The 43-year-old is stepping down from the role and it it is understood he is set to become the new manager at Major League Soccer outfit Inter Miami.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some key moments from Neville’s time in charge of the Lionesses.

Appointment and winning start

England's first match after Neville's appointment was a 4-1 victory over France (Nick Potts/PA). (PA Archive)

Neville was announced as Mark Sampson’s successor by the Football Association in January 2018, a first manager’s job for the former England, Manchester United and Everton player. The fact he had never previously worked in the women’s game prompted some raised eyebrows, and a day later the FA issued an apology from him amid criticism over historical comments he had made on Twitter about women. Then, just over a month on from the appointment, Neville made a superb start in terms of his first match in charge, with the team scoring three first-half goals en route to a 4-1 SheBelieves Cup victory over France.

Triumph in the United States

A year later, with World Cup qualification having been secured, England were crowned winners of the SheBelieves Cup for the first time. What was their fourth campaign in the four-team invitational tournament saw them beat Brazil 2-1 and Japan 3-0 either side of a 2-2 draw with hosts the United States, the reigning world champions. Certainly it appeared a promising sign from Neville’s side in the build-up to the summer’s showpiece in France, and took his record to nine wins from 15 games in charge, with only two defeats.

World Cup highs and lows

England captain Steph Houghton (right) had a late penalty saved in the World Cup semi-final loss to the United States (John Walton/PA). (PA Archive)

When the World Cup came around, England opened their Group D matches with a 2-1 victory over Scotland before ending the pool in top spot following subsequent victories over Argentina and Japan. They then beat Cameroon in the last 16 before an impressive 3-0 triumph over Norway sent them through to their third successive major tournament semi-final. That result proved the highlight – Neville’s team were then defeated 2-1 by the United States, with skipper Steph Houghton having a late penalty saved, and lost a third-place play-off to Sweden by the same score.

SheBelieves disappointment

The team headed into the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020 having had an underwhelming sequence of results since the World Cup, which included losing 2-1 to Germany at Wembley in front of a crowd of 77,768 – a record attendance for a Lionesses home fixture. That form continued in the United States as Neville’s side lost 2-0 to the hosts and, after beating Japan 1-0, were then defeated 1-0 by Spain. That final result made it seven losses in 11 games for Neville’s side.

Future departure announced

The FA in April 2020 announced Neville would be leaving his job in July 2021, at the end of his contract (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Archive)

The next month, following the decision to postpone the England-hosted Euros from 2021 to 2022 as the sporting calendar was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the FA announced Neville was set to leave the job in July 2021, at the end of his contract. In the time since that announcement, Holland boss Sarina Wiegman was named as his successor (to start work in September 2021), there was uncertainty over whether Neville would manage a Great Britain team at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, while England have not played a single international. Friendlies against Germany and Norway, scheduled for October and December respectively, were both cancelled for coronavirus-related reasons.

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