28 May 2020

Phil Neville admits England women's job was just a stepping-stone into club football and he never intended to stay

Phil Neville has admitted that taking on the coaching  role of the England women’s team was always meant to be a stepping-stone to a role in club football.

The departing manager, who led the Lionesses to the semi-finals at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, was speaking on beIN Sports’ Keys & Gray Show.

“My plan was always just to go for the three years and then get into day-to-day running of a club job, which would be what I wanted to do," said the 43-year-old.

“I had a World Cup, I had the Olympics  — which [would have been] this summer — and then there’s the Euros in England next summer. That was my three-year stint at international football.

“I think international football for a 41, 42-year-old can get quite frustrating — so I thought, get some managerial experience, which is unbelievable in terms of going to major tournaments, and then cut my teeth in day-to-day running with the energy that I’ve got,” he added.

Neville admitted the coronavirus pandemic had brought forward his announcement to step down from the job, adding he had ’loved every minute of it’.

“With the coronavirus, there has obviously been no Olympic Games, no Euros — which meant that obviously I had to make the decision early," he said.

Neville also shared his disappointment that the Women’s Super League had been terminated.

“I’d say that for the whole of the lockdown period, the news and the focus has totally been on the Premier League,” he said.

However, he said it was the ’right decision’ despite being somewhat ’disappointing’.

He also said he was concerned about the impact on sides outside the big four who did not have as much financial backing.

“I’m pretty sure that the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City will look after their women’s team," he said.

"It’s teams like Bristol City, Birmingham and Brighton [that he is worried about]. 

“We need to keep teams like Birmingham, Bristol City and Reading because they’re really good teams who have been there from the start,” he said.

Neville will step down as head coach when his contract ends in July 2021, just ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox