Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright has lauded the measures that Phil Neville has been taking to settle his team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
Bright, who joined Chelsea in 2015 from Doncaster Rovers Belles, is playing in her second major tournament for the Lionesses in France and has been taken aback by the lengths that the England head coach has gone to; many of which may appear a contrast to the intense post-match talks delivered in the on-pitch huddles.
Much of the former Manchester United and Everton midfielder’s techniques have been around the integration of the players’ families into the tournament, spotlighting a sentimental side of Neville which Bright is a big fan of.
She told Thomas Smith of the University of Derby’s Football Journalism course “I think that’s the main thing Phil wants, it’s their journey as well. That’s what people forget, it’s our family’s journey too and it’s all part of an experience for them; so they’re always feeling welcome and for me that is a big thing.”
Having overcome a shoulder injury sustained against Scotland, which saw Bright miss the victory over Argentina, the centre-back is fit ahead of England’s final Group D match against Japan. Some of the players spent the weekend seeing their dads on Father’s Day, with it clear in Bright’s mind Neville’s family-friendly policy is proving key to the team’s continued success.
She explained “When we have that bit of free time he’s always encouraging us to go and switch off and see family.
“I think that’s a great way to be, I think that a happy player is a good player. For me the downtime is really important.”
Bright’s family are a constant at her matches and she believes that Neville’s techniques are of great benefit to the squad. The most recent of his surprises saw each player’s hotel room decorated with a picture of their nearest and dearest, following on from the marketing team issuing each player a personalised phone case.
She added “That had been arranged, the girls had no idea it was going to happen. So walking into your hotel room and seeing that is a really nice touch and you always feel like they’re with you along the way, whether they’re present or back home in England.
“I had a picture of my partner, my mum, my dad and my sister in front of the England bus pointing at the England flag.”
By Thomas Smith (@mrthomassmith_) – University of Derby Football Journalism student