Will the Olympics delay affect the lionesses and Phil Neville’s decision to stay?

Phil Neville

The Coronavirus Pandemic has impacted businesses all over the world and it has been disastrous for the sports leagues and competitions worldwide. The 2020 Summer Olympics that was supposed to take place from July to August of 2020 has now been postponed to July to August of 2021 and it’s a serious problem for the lionesses as we are most likely to see the 2021 Women’s European Championship get postponed to 2022 which means they will have to compete in 3 major competitions in consecutive years thanks to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

However, the major concern lies within the squad as Phil Neville, the manager, only has a year left in his contract and his decision whether to stay or move on will affect the lionesses accordingly. The FA needs full commitment from Neville until at least 2022 (if 2021 Euro gets postponed to 2022) and a 2 year extension to his contract which would actually mean he would have to commit to the National team until 2023 because of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Neville has the support of the FA even after a disappointing few months which saw the lionesses losing the SheBelieves Cup and overall losing 7 of the last 11 games.

The advantage of having these important competitions postponed is that the FA will have ample amount of time to recruit smartly in case Phil Neville decides to walk away but they must use it wisely. The FA will need to find someone that is going to be committed for at least 3 years in order to perform well in all 3 of the major competitions. Among the various options, they have ex-USA, 2 time World Cup winner coach Jill Ellis who is currently a free agent and Chelsea boss Emma Hayes who has also shown interest in the national team managerial job.

England had a decent run in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as they only lost in the semi-finals to the tournament favourites, the USWNT, who went on to win it all. However, things have rather gone downhill since then as they have only managed to win 3 of their last 11 matches and suffered painful losses to the USWNT and Spain in the SheBelieves Cup earlier in March.

Although the players have Neville’s back as forward Nikita Parris and defender Leah Williamson both came to his defence after the 1-0 loss against Spain, the frustrations have certainly grown as Neville was evidently deflated because of the losses. But he was not critical of his players for the losses as he admitted that he would protect his players until the day he walks out of his job and wouldn’t continue if he stopped feeling challenged or motivated.