Following reports suggesting Phil Neville is to be named England women’s manager, Nancy Frostick weighs up whether he is the right candidate to take the team forward.
In one of the most unexpected twists in the hunt for a new England women’s manager, former Manchester United and Everton defender Phil Neville has emerged as the leading candidate for the biggest vacancy in women’s football.Embed from Getty Images
Since Mark Sampson was relieved of his duties in September last year, a range of coaches have been linked with the Lionesses job, however one by one obvious names have ruled themselves out. So, is Phil Neville the right person to manage England?
The appointment would certainly bring a number of positives. As a high profile figure in men’s football, Neville would attract a new audience and would no doubt generate greater media attention.
Like the appointment of former Leeds manager Neil Redfearn at Doncaster Rovers Belles, it would be an acknowledgement that women’s football can attract some of the big names from the wider world of coaching.Embed from Getty Images
What’s more, Neville looks like he’d be the right manager for the FA given the situation in which they find themselves. Much like after the Sam Allardyce debacle, scandal within the organisation has caused a lack of interest and therefore slim pickings for suitable candidates.
The Safe Choice?
It might benefit England’s governing body to follow a similar tack as when they employed Gareth Southgate for the men’s national team to try and restore some credibility.
As a former player, Neville would be a safe choice as a known entity to the FA. The first year for whoever is next in charge of the Lionesses is going to be as much about restoring the FA’s reputation as it will about performances on the pitch – something Southgate has managed relatively well in the build-up to his first major tournament in charge.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, and arguably most importantly, Neville has all his coaching badges. Both the FA and a number of key England players have stressed their preference to have ‘the right person for the job’ in charge of the team.
If that is the case, then the fact that Neville has his UEFA Pro Licence stands in his favour. The same could not be said for Sampson when he was appointed, so Neville would be taking a job having achieved the highest coaching qualification available.
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There is, of course, a flip side to the former England player’s potential appointment.
Many within women’s football have rightly questioned whether he knows enough – if anything – about women’s football to be given the job. His Twitter following spree of Lionesses players in recent days doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence.Embed from Getty Images
Although Neville has experience as an assistant coach, he hasn’t held a full-time managerial role before so it would be a leap into the unknown to appoint him.
More than a hobby
With other very experienced, very suitable coaches already involved in women’s football such as Keith Boanas and current caretaker manager Mo Marley potentially being overlooked, Neville is likely to come under the microscope.
Another key point is that, regardless of the mess the FA and Sampson have made for the national team, being manager of England is not a hobby. That may be coming down too hard on a good coach before he’s even got the job, but the Lionesses is not a side project.
Phil Neville is a busy man with media and coaching commitments as well as his role as co-owner of Salford City FC, so to take over as England manager he would surely have to give some (if not all) of these jobs up.
If he is prepared to make the commitment then the FA might have just bagged a surprising, but intriguing, appointment to take the Lionesses to the next World Cup.
You can follow Nancy on Twitter at @nancyfrostick