The explanations given by the English FA are thin in comparison to the reasons against, which is not a good look for a highly ranked national team - especially one coming off a previous coaching scandal.
2018 hasn’t been a great year so far when it comes to Football Associations taking their women’s teams seriously.
Earlier in the month, Canada Soccer announced that the John Herdman, who coached the women’s national team to bronze medals in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, would now be coaching the men instead. In a Women’s World Cup qualifying year. It was a sudden and shocking decision that bolstered the men and hurt the women in one fell swoop.
Most-capped and highest-scoring Canadian star Christine Sinclair summed it up when she said:
Speechless right now….
— Christine Sinclair (@sincy12) January 9, 2018
And now, the English FA has appointed Phil Neville to lead the England Lionesses through the 2021 Women’s Euros. It makes perfect sense; the third-ranked women’s team in the world deserves a head coach who has never been a head coach before.
What’s more, not only has Phil Neville never been a head coach – he was a first-team coach under Moyes at Manchester United for a year in 2013-2014, was a caretaker at Salford City the year after, and most recently was an assistant at Valencia in 2015-16 — but also he’s never once set foot in the women’s game, at any level.
Has he ever wanted to? Probably not, considering he didn’t even apply for this one. This means to say that, of all the people that actually did apply, the FA wants you to believe that there was somehow nobody more qualified than a never-been-head-coach, hasn’t-coached-at-all-since-2016 Phil Neville.
What’s more, from his now-deleted Twitter account — not before the old tweets were dug up and shared widely — Neville has said lovely, hilarious things about women in the past such as “When I said morning men I thought the women would of been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds- sorry morning women!” and one about how he’d just “battered the wife.” Just top class jokes, really; if any of the women are ever late to training, they can always just blame it on the time it took them to prepare breakfast/get the kids ready/make the beds.
Neville will shockingly not face a charge from the FA, the same organization that hired him either either in spite or or unaware of said tweets. And, although disgusting and aberrant and not the views — even jokingly — you want coaching or even spending a significant of time around women, the tweets themselves are not the main problem; their existence just exposes the total lack of care with which the FA handled this whole situation. At the very least, they should have been found and deleted long before Neville’s announcement was made. At worst, no type of social media check was done and they were not found at all.
All in all, the entire debacle was a bad look for anyone involved at any point in the process, from the very first step in recruitment to whoever sent through the contract for him to sign. Hopefully it won’t translate to quite the same level of disaster on the pitch.