Looking at England’s build-up in the SheBelieves Cup

Conclusion

This really wasn’t a good tournament for England. There were some individual performances that were encouraging, but as a collective it was disappointing. Issues in possession that arose during the World Cup seem to have gotten worse rather than better. The absence of Lucy Bronze will have some effect on this, but being quite far into his reign as manager you expect Neville to have ironed out a lot of issues when it comes to moving the ball from the back – especially if it’s such a big part of what he wants from the players.

Neville’s reportedly not under pressure from the FA, which seems surprising. The results have been poor and the performances haven’t exactly been much better. The FA likely doesn’t want to uproot things a year (or maybe two given the recent reports) before hosting a Euro’s, but I can’t imagine watching these England performances and thinking the team is on track to challenge for them.

Looking at England’s build-up, there just feels like there needs to be more. Which may not sound helpful, but there doesn’t seem to be anything they’re doing as well as the other sides they faced in this tournament – let alone better than.

The movement from the full-backs and midfielders isn’t on the same level as the US or Spain – the latter of which is probably more concerning for England. They seem to find it hard finding a balance between having the midfielders push and stretch the pitch or having them drop in and overload, while the full-backs seem reluctant to get forward but also aren’t offering much in possession during the build-up.

At centre-back, it’d be nice to see them try and commit the opposition more often if there’s not any movement in front of them. It’s often too easy to control where England move the ball and the centre-backs can play into this by hitting side to side before sending a hopeful ball upfield.

I had quite a bit of optimism after the World Cup. There were issues but it seemed like there was a good chance to work on them. Then being able to introduce some different players, such as Leah Williamson, and have Jordan Nobbs back made it seem like England were moving in a positive direction. That optimism has pretty much gone now though. If the 2019 SheBelieves Cup gave England confidence going into the World Cup, this year’s edition will likely be a big reality check in England’s preparation for a home Euro’s.