Waking up on Saturday morning to read reports that Phil Neville was the frontrunner and favourite to take the England’s women’s job, I wasn’t sure if I was still asleep or drunk from the night before, even though I hadn’t even been drinking.
Phil Neville? Really? That couldn’t t be right.
It took me a few cups of coffee to get my head around it.
Regardless of what they say in public, this move serves as more proof that the FA has no real interest in the women’s game beyond how they can use it to help out their mates.
It shows just how serious they take this side of the game when they can turn away from female coaches with a wealth of experience towards a novice who has shown no interest in the women’s game but does have testosterone so, you know, he must be better by default, right?
What was the criteria for this job as manager of the FIFA-ranked third best national team in the world? It certainly doesn’t seem to have been significant managerial experience or experience in the women’s game of any kind. Neville is, at least, English. I guess.
So how did it come to this? Drinks with the boys, according to the Guardian, who report, “…the 40-year-old’s name was initially suggested to the Football Association in a light-hearted manner by a well known broadcaster at a drinks reception last month. However, the idea clearly resonated in the corridors of power and is seen by Neville’s many admirers at the FA as a way of potentially getting him into the organisation.”
The frontrunner for the women’ job was suggested as a joke because the FA wanted to hire him yet apparently couldn’t justify giving him a role with any of the male teams.
Google ‘Phil Neville women’s football’ and the only results you are likely to see are the ones covering this story.
82 results came up when I tried it.
He doesn’t appear to have *talked* about women’s football before while the bulk of his career was played at a club that doesn’t even have a women’s team because, despite being one of the richest in the world, they don’t want to spend the money. The men running the club don’t think it’s worth it, you see.
Mo Marley, to pick just one woman who could do this job in her sleep, has an MBE for her services in women’s football. She received that honour from the Queen 12 years ago and has continued to dedicate her life to the game. Many others turned heir back on what they perceived as a poison chalice due the FA themselves, but Marley stepped up and stepped in.
Unfortunately for her, though, no penis.
What message does this move send to the talented women coaches working so hard throughout the game? What does this say to former female pros about their position in the food chain?
Men at the FA, who seem determined not to trust women to run their own game, show themselves to be clueless at best, negligent at worst. The misogyny is so casual and ingrained they don’t even see it.
On the back of the recent scandals that engulfed the organisation, most of which don’t even scratch the surface of what goes on behind the scenes and will become public one day to the shame of all involved, the FA needed to show that it had at least attempted to learn some lessons.
They have failed completely.
Phil Neville may well turn out to be the best England women’s manager in history but he shouldn’t even have been in the running for the job.
That he was is bad enough.
If he is given the role it is inexcusable.