Ahead of facing Scotland in his first-ever major tournament match as England Women’s head coach, Phil Neville referred to managing at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 as the biggest thing he has done in his life.
The 42-year-old, who has been in charge of the Lionesses for almost 18 months, leads his side into
the tournament as fourth favourites only behind tournament hosts France and previous winners the United States and Germany.
Due to this, expectation is rife and the pressure is on for Neville and his players prior to this evening’s all-British clash with the Scots.
Speaking to Jack Hasler of the University of Derby’s Football Journalism course, he said: “It’s not about me but in my life football has been the number one sport. World Cup’s are what made me fall in love with it.
“This is going to be the biggest World Cup. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it’s the pinnacle for any player and any managers,” added Neville.
The Lionesses head coach has faced criticism for the number of changes which he has made to his starting XI in recent months, with likely centre-half pairing Steph Houghton and Millie Bright having played just three times together since Neville’s appointment.
He said: “I’ve been ruthless in the decisions that I’ve made and left several key players out. I’ve rotated the team because I want to play the strongest XI possible to win the game.
“I don’t see us having a strong XI, I see us having a fantastic squad of 23 players. The team that I will look to select tomorrow probably won’t be the team to play against Argentina or against Japan.
“Hopefully we go far in this competition and there is no way that the same 11 players can go from the start to the finish. I’ve got a strong pool of 28 to 30 players and I trust them all,” said the England boss.
With plenty of big choices to be made, Neville’s decision making will be put to the test this evening as he selects his first major tournament XI against Scotland in Nice.
By Jack Hasler (@jackhasler23)