Phil Neville spoke to Samantha Miller about his England players being taken out of their comfort zone in their World Cup preparations, and the start of the WSL season.
The England Lionesses prepare for the World Cup in France in the summer with tough opposition in Brazil and Australia that will challenge them ahead of the major tournament.
Lionesses manager Phil Neville said, “Its imperative [to play against non European opposition], SheBelieves always offers us that opportunity to play against different continents. I wanted to play top 10 of the world teams. I feel as if they are going to be our main competition when we get to the World Cup.
“I want my players taken out their comfort zone.
“The next eight months, the teams that we are playing and the venues they are playing in we are going to see what they’ve got. I need to see if this group of players has what it takes to go and win a World Cup.
”The biggest change was in the last camp, where for the first time they got me. In terms of it takes a while to get a philosophy over, you want it in day one as a manager but more often then not its 6-12 months. I thought ‘they understand what I want now’. The players were driving it from within; all of a sudden the standards were driven from the players and the staff within, rather than me on my own.
“I feel as if my players now get what I want. That within such a short space of time shows the level of commitment, desire and determination this set of players and staff have got.”
Neville isn’t looking to change his style depending on the opposition: “I want to play a certain style but I also want to win football matches. We will be working on two systems and will have both of them up our sleeves.
“The style won’t change; if you look at the best managers in the world they don’t change their style of play for an opposition. They back their style, they have belief in their style and I have total belief in the way I want my team to be successful. I’m going to live and die to that, we’re going to die trying and die doing it my way.”
The competition for places is heating up with more players performing for their clubs to try and catch the eye of Neville.
“They are under no illusions what it will take to win and what it will take to get on that plane,” added Neville.
The start of the WSL has seen the two title contenders from last season, Chelsea and Manchester City, being challenged in the league, and Neville was not surprised after what he saw in the WSL last season.
He said: “I think the WSL at the moment is improving. Birmingham are a much-improved team. Reading are always a horrible team to play against. The level from the top teams will always improve. The biggest challenge for the WSL is to get the bottom teams and middle section up, the quality is now is coming from below. It helps performance and the level get better.
“I saw it towards the end of last season. I saw Reading and Birmingham. I thought Bristol would probably struggle when their manager and Lauren Hemp left but they’ve got something really good at Bristol. They are developing young players and play really good styles, you could see it coming through.
“I think the introduction of Manchester United, even though they are in the league below, has given everyone a bit of a jolt to say maybe they will come up next year.
“Arsenal have improved massively, you can just see with that competition, results will be strange but its good. My Manchester City players have had to show unbelievable resilience over the last few weeks to come back from 2-0 down twice so that’s good for me.”
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