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Women's Football The FA cannot seriously give Phil Neville the England job

The Lionesses are not a sideshow and deserve to be taken seriously. However, KADEEM SIMMONDS believes this appointment would say the opposite

THE reaction to the news that Phil Neville was seriously being considered to take the England women’s job was pretty much the same from whoever I mentioned it to.

It was one of laughter and bewilderment, until the realisation dawned on them that I wasn’t joking and this was a legitimate story.

I’m sure Neville is a great person and maybe somewhere down the line he will be a tremendous manager. But to argue that him taking over the England team is a good thing is a farce.

I would hope that, should he get the job, it will be because the Football Association would have gone through every possible candidate at least twice. That being said, even then, there must be a more suitable person for the role.

Neville has limited experience at managing at senior level, to put it kindly. Assistant at Spanish side Valencia a few years ago, as well as one game in charge of non-league side Salford three years ago, you are now asking the former Manchester United and Everton player to take charge of a side tipped to win major honours at international level.

This isn’t the team to experiment with nor the time to do it. The person that gets this job should have the experience or quality to win a World Cup or European Championship. Anything below that is unfair on the players and coaching staff that have reached the semi-finals at the last two major tournaments.

If the FA are desperate to have Neville be involved with the women’s game, have him on the coaching staff of one of their many age groups.

Giving him the main coaching role seems like a really bad publicity stunt, a way to get the game more attention.

Let’s be honest, it’s had people talking about it and imagine the press box at their next home game, it would be packed. If it wasn’t already it will certainly be picked up by the BBC, everyone will want to see how he gets on on his debut.

And I am always up for more eyes on the women’s game, but not like this. The last few years have shown that the success of this group of players will bring in new supporters, regardless of who is in the dugout.

The moment you place Neville in charge, you attract people who don’t really care about the team and it diminishes all the hard work the players have put in over the past few years.

As previously mentioned, this is a team on the verge of success. Why would you then hand the reigns over to someone who would be learning on the job. Do the FA really think Neville is their Pep Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane? Even those two greats spent time in charge of youth teams before making the next step to senior level.

There is no way Neville would be seriously considered to take over from Gareth Southgate at the men’s team, so why is he allowed to succeed Mark Sampson?

The men’s side spent a while trying to find a successor to Sam Allardyce and was Neville on that list? I highly doubt it.

The women’s team should be held in the same esteem as the men’s side, if not greater given recent results on the pitch. And that means not messing them around by placing a novice in charge.

I get that some international teams have placed an inexperienced manager in charge, with Wales giving Mark Hughes his first job as a manager in 1999 and only this week doing the same with Ryan Giggs.

While I had no opinion on Hughes getting the job just over a decade ago, I do with Giggs and was against the idea. No offence to the former winger but what had he done to deserve the role?

I’m all for throwing people in at the deep end but the remit for Giggs at Wales and Neville at England would be entirely different.

I can see the logic behind the Giggs appointment, don’t get me wrong. He knows the ins and outs of that side, would have inside information on the up and coming players due to his close relationship with the Welsh FA and the players in that dressing room would have idolised the former winger and may relish the opportunity to work under him.

I can’t see any of that being the case with Neville. 

While the players may respect him as a player and watched him growing up, do we really think following the sacking of Sampson they wanted him to be the replacement?

That he has only recently followed the Women’s Super League and the teams and players on social media smells of desperation and panic.

Had he truly been interested in the women’s game, would he not have done that long ago? It reminds me of student with a test first thing in the morning and who has rushed to the library the night before to borrow all the books that they can.

And what does it say to the female coaches and managers that are being overlooked? While I am led to believe that Mo Marley and Emma Hayes don’t want the job, there must be some talented coaches in the FA set-up that are deserving of this opportunity.

They may have limited experience but the same applies for Neville.

Emma Coates took over a struggling Doncaster Rovers Belles side last year and is currently working with England’s Under-18 and 20 sides.

The club placed Kate Rowson in temporary charge before giving the gig to Neil Redfearn, could Rowson be given an interview to see if she is suitable?

Brent Hills was a favourite for the job before Sampson was hired in 2013 and is now head of women’s elite development at the FA — has he turned down the role?

John Griffiths, the current under-17 coach, has he been offered the role or the chance to interview for it?

Marianne Spacey, Kelly Smith, Sue Smith. I would assume that all have been sounded out for the job before Neville’s name was brought up.

That we have a situation where Neville is set to take over must mean, to me anyway, that every possible candidate has turned the job down. And if that is the case, why does no-one want the job?

It’s not an unattractive role by any means. Is it the thought of working with the FA? Is it having to follow on from Sampson?

For those who follow the Lionesses or the women’s game when they have nothing better to do, to see Neville in charge may be a reason to tune in.

But to those who are regular followers, who have paid attention to matches over the past few years, this is a real smack in the face.

And that’s not to say that new supporters are not welcome, they always are. But there must be a better way to bring them on board than to hire someone who, if we are honest, doesn’t deserve the job.


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