Neville was appointed Lionesses boss in January 2018. It was his first ever job in women’s football and he has worked hard to build a winner’s mentality within the England squad.
That produced a fourth place finish at this summer’s Women’s World Cup as England reached a third consecutive major semi-final to cement their status among the world’s best.
Yet Neville has also been heavily criticised, especially when it comes to tactical choices.
That makes the Daily Mail claim that he is the ‘number one target’ to replace Ellis something of a shock. With Ellis stepping down of her own accord, the newspaper alleges the 52-year-old coach, who is expected to have significant influence when it comes to hiring a successor, has been impressed by Neville, as apparently have ‘other figures within the U.S. Federation.’
Neville, who is fiercely proud of steering England to a SheBelieves Cup triumph in March, is even nominated alongside Ellis as finalist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.
Yet there is already doubt over the accuracy of what the Mail report is claiming. That is because U.S. journalist Grant Wahl, a noted voice in women’s soccer stateside, said on Twitter that he has been told there are no such plans to approach Neville and he is ‘not even a candidate’.
Was just told that Phil Neville is not even a candidate for the USWNT coaching job. https://t.co/eMPnS4XoX0— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 2, 2019
Analysing the Cameroon last 16 clash for ESPN, the retired defender was critical of how England approached the game against a physical opponent, as well as Neville's post-game comments after the infamous contest had turned unsavoury.
Markgraf has not only stated she'd prefer a female coach in charge of the USWNT but the former player wasn't overly complimentary about Neville as a coach/manager during the WWChttps://t.co/wjB6D9kPRq— Sophie Lawson (@lawson_sv) September 2, 2019
With England falling short of Neville’s own publicly declared target of World Cup glory during the summer and getting slapped with a reality check in their first game since the tournament – a notably sloppy performance in a 3-3 draw with Belgium – the former Manchester United defender has come in for extra criticism this week and has sought to defend his record.
He has now claimed that his ‘vision’ for England is unique and that he never has a bad day.
“I have a vision that nobody else has,” Neville is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
“I’ve got bravery that no other coach has probably had. So, do you know what? Thank your lucky stars. I’m here. I’m here to stay. And I’m going to continue to keep improving,” he added.
“I’ve got a long way to go but I think with the set of players we’ve got and with my philosophy, I think we can go a long way. I live and breathe it, and I never have a bad day.”
Neville more generally suggested the criticism ‘doesn’t stack up’.
All in all, nice guy, needs to think before he speaks sometimes, yet to see whether he is a top top level manager.— Suzy Wrack (@SuzyWrack) September 2, 2019
“I’m lucky that I’ve got great players, but they’re lucky that they’ve got a coach that believes in them, that gives them the platform to enjoy their football,” he said.