Since taking the job Phil Neville has reminded us time and time and time again that his style is non-negotiable. The third article linked was following the 2-0 defeat to the US and Neville goes into a bit more detail about his style and the shortcomings so far.
To steal some quotes from there, he states the patient build-up play, playing out from the back, is non-negotiable (and also seems to be all he’s referring to when he talks about his style). “It’s my style and how I want to play, we just have to be better at it,” he continues. To be honest, I think this is right. It’s not bad that England are trying to play out from the back, what’s bad is that they don’t seem to be doing it all that well.
Neville goes on to say it’s how the players want to play, which is more important than him wanting to play that way (even though it’s non-negotiable that he’ll play with his style) which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Without trying to sound too cynical about what Neville is trying to bring to the national team, almost all of this England squad play for clubs that look to build from the back. It makes it frustrating to hear all the talk and debate about whether England should look to play from the back and Neville needing time to get them used to it when every week the same players look comfortable doing it. Sure, there’ll be plenty of games, like against the US, where there’s a huge step-up in quality compared to what they face at club level, but it’s not just against top sides that England have struggled.
Rather than look at England or the SheBelieves Cup as a whole, I thought I’d focus just on how England looked to build from the back. It’s been a big talking point since Neville has taken over and tends to be the foundation of everything. If England aren’t progressing it from the back very well, everything else will likely suffer as a result.
Fair warning, this gets rambly and disorganised very quickly.