England women’s head coach Phil Neville believes his side’s showing in the SheBelieves Cup has blown away “the negativity” surrounding his appointment despite their 1-0 defeat to hosts the USA this morning, writes Kieran Theivam in Orlando.
A Karen Bardsley own goal in the 58th minute enabled the Americans to leapfrog England in the table to win the trophy, but after a victory over France and draw against Germany ensured second place — the Lionesses’ best finish in the tournament — Neville felt the criticism from some quarters that followed his arrival in January had been dealt with.
“People said before I got this job that women’s football is totally different and what I have learned in the last three games is that it’s not actually that different,” Neville said.
“They were talking as if women’s football was played on Mars. It’s played on the same size pitch, with the same quality players, playing the same system, with the same problems you have on the men’s side.
“This tournament should have dispelled all the negativity whether I know enough about women’s football, because ultimately you’re coaching a team against the best team in the world, and the problems are no different whether you’re female or a male.”
England’s best chance of snatching an equaliser was Ellen White’s late header that hit a post. The USA’s goal summed up the luck Neville’s side experienced in the tournament, Bardsley turning the ball into her own net following two deflections off defenders Abbie McManus and Millie Bright for England’s second own goal in two matches.
“I said to the players to remember this feeling of losing, remember this feeling of seeing them lift the trophy, because that’s where we want to be,” Neville added.