Phil Neville targeting immediate success after World Cup semi-final defeat

Phil Neville swiftly turned his focus to future targets after England’s bid to win the Women’s World Cup came to an end on Tuesday night.

Having suffered a 2-1 semi-final defeat to holders the United States in Lyon, Neville’s Lionesses will now play for third place in Nice on Saturday, against either Holland or Sweden.

England finishing as one of the top three European sides at the tournament has secured 2020 Olympics qualification for Great Britain, and Neville has said he will manage that team. Then the following summer, England host the European Championships.

England face Holland or Sweden in the third place play-off on Saturday
England face Holland or Sweden in the third place play-off on Saturday (Richard Sellers/PA)

Neville said: “The minute the game finished, my first thought was how do we win on Saturday? And my second thought was how do we win Olympic gold?

“Because I was looking over at them, and that was my motivation. Looking over and thinking how do we win Olympic gold? How do we win the Euros in 2021? I don’t wallow.

“Before the game, it was the furthest thing from my mind, going back down to Nice, but now I’ve moved on from this already and now I’m looking forward to Saturday’s game.

“We have a three-year plan and I’ll see on Saturday the attitude, the concentration and the commitment of my players. And they won’t let me down, because they never have.”


Victory for England on Tuesday would have seen them reach the Women’s World Cup final for the first time. The US have now made it on five occasions, and are looking to become four-time winners.

The teams are ranked third and first in the world rankings respectively.

“It’s now (about) making us better and getting the next two, three per cent that will make us one of best teams in the world,” Neville said.


“The aim is for us is to become the best, like America. We’ve still got a bit to go, but I won’t stop until we get there.”

He added: “Good luck to America. I think they showed they know what it takes to win games of football.

“I have to say it was the most enthralling 90 minutes I’ve ever been involved in as a manager. It is where my players want to be and it is where I want to be, and we are knocking on the door now.”

England players appear dejected after the final whistle
England players appear dejected after the final whistle (John Walton/PA)

The dramatic contest saw Christen Press put the defending champions in front with a 10th-minute header, Ellen White draw things level nine minutes later and Alex Morgan then head home what proved the winner just after the half-hour mark.

Midway through the second half, England thought they had equalised through White, only for her finish to be disallowed on a marginal offside call following a VAR check.

England were then awarded an 84th-minute penalty via VAR, but captain Steph Houghton’s effort was kept out by Alyssa Naeher, and Millie Bright was sent off soon after, being shown a second yellow card following a challenge on Morgan.