England women manager's job was a stepping stone to club football, says Neville

Phil Neville says he always intended to leave the England Women’s team after three years to take a job in club football.

The former Manchester United and England defender was appointed coach of the Lionesses in 2018 and will leave his post when his contract expires in 2021.

The 43-year-old was originally intended to lead the team to the 2020 Olympics and Women’s Euro 2021, but the competitions have been delayed 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Neville will not be staying on for another year to compete on the international stage, however, as he hopes to make the switch to club football soon.

"My plan was always just to go for the three years and then get into day-to-day running of a club job, which would be what I wanted to do,” he told Bein Sports. “It’s been brilliant and I’ve loved every minute of it, but ultimately you don’t get to see the players. You don’t get to impact them every single day, which is now what I feel I need to do.

“The plan was always to do the three years. I had a World Cup, I had the Olympics  — which [would have been] this summer — and then there’s the Euros in England next summer. That was my three-year stint at international football.

"I think international football for a 41, 42-year-old can get quite frustrating, so I thought, get some managerial experience, which is unbelievable in terms of going to major tournaments, and then cut my teeth in day-to-day running with the energy that I’ve got.

“With the coronavirus, there has obviously been no Olympic Games, no Euros — which meant that obviously I had to make the decision early.”

While the ex-Red Devils star believes it was the correct decision to cancel the Women’s Super League in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, he fears some teams might not return when the division starts up again.

“I’d say that for the whole of the lockdown period, the news and the focus has totally been on the Premier League,” Neville said.  

“I’m pretty sure that the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City will look after their women’s team. I think there’s a massive commitment there.

"It’s teams like Bristol City, Birmingham and Brighton, even - when they’re looking at the budgets for the year, and obviously the biggest income is on the men’s side. Reading and Birmingham have both furloughed their women’s teams and staff.

"I hope that we don’t lose them, because ultimately there’s only 12 teams in the senior division. We need to keep teams like Birmingham, Bristol City and Reading because they’re really good teams who have been there from the start.”