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2019 Women's World Cup

Contender or pretender? Assessing England after one year under Phil Neville

Photo Copyright Daniela Porcelli | Joerdeli Photography

Eyebrows were raised, monocles dropped into flutes of champagne, and a few folks were said to have dramatically fainted when Phil Neville was announced as the new England women’s national team manager 13 months ago. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it was a seriously surprising day in the soccer world.

Neville, with his lack of managerial experience and knowledge of women’s football, was a long way away from what (or who) anyone would have expected. Taking charge of a team in touching distance of the zenith of the FIFA world rankings, Neville was granted a perfect start to the job with a 4-1 win over France at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup and, despite it being followed a week later with his first loss, his results have been positive.

EXTRA: With Nobbs out, England look to replace their heart and soul

Neville’s first competitive match, a World Cup qualifier, brought about a shock as England failed to overcome Wales in a scoreless draw Southampton. The rest of the qualifiers went without a hitch; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia and Kazakhstan fell away as Wales too succumbed to the Lionesses in Newport on the final match day.

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