Phil Neville says England Women have to experiment and take risks

In a special Neville siblings edition of Off Script, England Women head coach Phil Neville says his team needs to take risks if they are to reach the next level.

The former Manchester United and Everton defender was appointed as England Women head coach in January 2018 and has enjoyed success with the side, winning the 2019 SheBelieves Cup and finishing fourth at last summer’s World Cup.

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However, there has been a lack of form since the tournament in France, and speaking on the latest Off Script podcast, Neville said he is using a lack of competitive matches to bring through the best young talent.

“It’s been a tough time but we’ve got no tournaments,” he explained. “We’re experimenting and trying to build a new team. We’re trying things out and trying to get to the next level and for that, we have to take risks. We’ve taken big risks since the World Cup but knowing full well that these risks aren’t really going to cost us.

“The pleasing thing is we have a group of young players coming through now who can be as good as any player we’ve had. They’ve had the new way of coaching with the physical fitness and nutrition and they are going to be absolutely outstanding.

“I love the job that I’m doing. I think what I’ve learnt over the last two years is whatever level you coach at or whatever gender you coach, if you love it and have a great set of players, then you’ve got to stick to it. Yes, it’s been tough but it’s been tough because the bar was set so high after the World Cup.”

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‘Gary should have another crack at management’

It is not the first time Phil has turned his hand to coaching. He was assistant manager to brother Gary at Valencia during the 2015/16 season, and has urged his older sibling to reconsider his career path.

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Speaking about their time in Spain, he said: “I loved it. Gary rented a house around the corner and it took me back to the United days when we did everything together, we talked every minute of every day so it was absolutely fantastic.

“It was a difficult period because the team didn’t do as well as what we thought, but what Gary doesn’t really give himself credit for – and I see all the interviews he does about management and his time at Valencia – is he actually did some really good work.

“I study all the training sessions and the games that we played and the team played some really good football. He was very good at his job and I firmly believe he should give management a crack again. I know he’s made his mind up and he’s spoken openly about that, but I saw and worked for someone who could be an outstanding manager.

“The difficulty was the language barrier, but for me personally, I worked with my best friend and my brother in a difficult situation where he threw himself out there into a cauldron of a club that was notorious for sacking managers.

“But the minute he left, I wanted to leave straight away. I’d committed three years to living in Spain but ultimately, my loyalty was with my brother.”

Gary ‘proud’ of Tracey and Phil’s impact on women’s sport

Before Phil was England Women head coach, his twin sister Tracey had a decorated spell as England Netball head coach, winning Commonwealth Games gold in 2018 with a last-minute goal against Australia.

With both of his siblings leading the way in women’s sport during their careers, Gary explained how he came to appreciate the value of their achievements, particularly with Tracey.

He said: “When I retired from football, my life completely changed. When I look back at being a football player at Man United, I didn’t really care about anything else other than playing for United. I genuinely didn’t – I was just like that.

“But in the last few years, a number of things have happened. Tracey, along with the netball team she had for England, really rose to prominence. I’ve got two daughters, they play netball every single week and they’re obsessed with Tracey and she’s been amazing with them.

“My Mum and Dad travelled all around watching every one of our (Gary and Phil’s) games but when we retired, literally every single week, would go and watch Tracey’s games. They travelled to Australia where my Dad died and Tracey was coaching in the World Championships.

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