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5 things in Phil Neville’s in-tray

Neville has forged a career in punditry and has a stake in National League North side Salford City.

Phil Neville is the new manager of England Women after the Football Association finally settled on a successor to Mark Sampson.

The former England defender was a surprising choice for the role due to his lack of any experience working in the women’s game.

Here, Press Association Sport considers five areas where he might focus in his early days.

1. Get the coaching staff right

First-time manager Neville must surround himself with a trustworthy support team. Sampson’s chaotic exit grabbed most of the attention, but last year saw controversy also surround goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall who resigned after being accused of repeatedly addressing Eni Aluko in a mock Caribbean accent. The culture must be right, and Neville may need plenty of assistance in his early days in charge. A strong female presence within his backroom team would be a positive step. Former skipper Casey Stoney could have a role to play.

Casey Stoney

2. Learn more about the women’s game and his players

Neville looks to be on a crash course in learning about the Lionesses. On Twitter he flash-followed a group of accounts including official pages for the Lionesses and the Women’s Super League, plus a large group of senior England players including skipper Steph Houghton. If he was not paying attention beforehand, that calls into question his suitability and leaves him with plenty to catch up on. He needs to listen to those with greater knowledge and absorb as much as possible.

3. Leave no doubt about his priority

The England job is not a part-time commitment. Neville has forged a career in punditry and has a stake in National League North side Salford City but if England are to succeed at next year’s Women’s World Cup in France, it will require Neville to funnel his main focus towards the team of high achievers he is inheriting. England shot up the world rankings under Sampson and sit third, behind only USA and Germany. Setting his faults aside, Sampson set a high bar for on-pitch achievement.

Mark Sampson

4. Unite the squad

England’s players went through a stressful and often confusing time during the Sampson saga. Caretaker boss Mo Marley was a steadying short-term replacement, having brought many of the squad through the England youth ranks, but now Neville comes in as an unknown quantity to many. The Lionesses will give him every chance to succeed, given what he achieved as a player, but they are professional athletes and will expect him to hit the ground running. The job is not one for a novice, and although he is arguably that in this line of work, Neville cannot afford to present himself that way. He must impose personality and authority from day one.

England Women

5. Earn the results to make the critics eat their words

The FA has made its decision, and by not appointing a woman, or a man well-versed in women’s football, the likes of performance director Dan Ashworth and chief executive Martin Glenn are leaving themselves open for criticism. But Neville has the UEFA Pro Licence and he has coached at Manchester United and Valencia, learning Spanish to take on the latter job. By moving into the England hot seat he is putting his reputation on the line. He believes in his ability and must deliver.

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