Phil Neville has said he will know when his time is up as England manager, as the Lionesses seek their first back-to-back wins since June when they play Spain in the SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday.
Neville said the backing he received from the Football Association is “really important” and he praised the head of women’s football who is “driving the tank alongside me”, Sue Campbell.
“There is a real acceptance that we have to improve but they [the FA] know the journey we are going on and ultimately I will know myself if it is not working,” Neville said. “I’m that type of person. I came off during a game [for Everton] when I was 36 against Wigan and I played terrible. Literally at half‑time I retired from football because I knew full well my time had come.”
The pressure is mounting on the manager after six defeats in 10 games but the FA had privately suggested that even if England were to lose all three of their SheBelieves Cup games he would be safe. “I think it’s really important,” Neville said of the support. “Because if they start wobbling then it’s time to change and to look elsewhere. You need the backing of the people with you. I have such a good relationship with Sue Campbell and she’s driving the tank alongside me.”
Should England take their tally to seven defeats in 11 against a Spain team ranked 13th in the Fifa world rankings Neville’s side would leave Dallas with just three points from their three matches. He conceded that fewer than two wins from their three games would be a disappointment. “Yes I think [it would be]. Six points I think we would be satisfied with, six points, two wins would resonate and show a little bit of momentum so that is the way we are looking at it. I don’t think you can approach a game thinking about if we lose.”
Spain will be a tough test. England beat their opponents 2-1 last April but the Spaniards have come a long way, having twice troubled USA in the past eight months, including pushing them close in their World Cup last-16 tie.
“I think the World Cup was maybe six months too soon for them,” Neville said. “European football is far ahead of world football and Spain I think are in the top three or four in European football at this time. Their league is getting better with the investment that they are getting and you’ll see that tomorrow night.
“It will be a game where we probably have to suffer out of possession. The other day against the USA I thought they were sensational. Their players are starting to get stronger and fitter and we’re going to have to really produce a top performance.”