Women’s World Cup: England bond like Man Utd Treble-winners, says Phil Neville

Updated: 22/03/2023


Phil Neville's side play their first Women's World Cup match against Scotland on 9 June
Women's World Cup
Host nation: France Dates: 7 June – 7 July 2019
Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on all England and Scotland matches and you can listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, online and on the Red Button

England's players carry the same spirit as Manchester United's treble-winning team, says coach Phil Neville, whose side are preparing for their first Women's World Cup warm-up match.

Neville's side play Denmark on Saturday and then New Zealand the following week before their first World Cup game, against Scotland on 9 June.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The first thing that comes into my head is spirit, togetherness and character.

“The Lionesses have got that bond.”

The 42-year-old featured in United's squad as they completed their Treble feat exactly to the day on Sunday, 20 years ago.

He added: “When I came into the England job and I was writing my list of dos and don'ts, among the dos was ‘get a special bond with your players'.

“Get them think that you actually care about them and that you would die for them and I think they know that I would. So, straight away they can trust me and then it's about treating them on a human level.”

Neville said the starting line-ups he picks for the forthcoming friendlies will provide a good indication as to his starting XI against Scotland.

He added: “We are getting to that point where selection really matters because they all want to play in that first game against Scotland.

“I named the team last night [Thursday] for tomorrow. You could see their eyes were wide open and they wanted to be in it. What I've said to them is we've provided a lot of opportunities over the past 16 months, we've rotated the team, I trust all of them and over the next two games it's about fine tuning.”

England, who finished third in 2015, will also play Argentina and Japan in Group D, and Neville explained why playing Saturday's opponents is integral to his plans.

“Two years ago Denmark were in the final of the European Championship, so this team is probably as good a team that is at the World Cup,” he said.

“Scandinavian teams are well organised, are good physically and play to a good system and they have got really good individual players, so it's the test that we wanted.

“Denmark and New Zealand play different systems, but this one is probably close to what Japan will play, 4-4-2, tight system, really work hard together, tried and trusted – so this will be a good test for us.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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