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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Phil Neville: England women's team 'can win it all'

It has been a year since Phil Neville accepted the post of guiding England's women's national soccer team to glory at this summer's Women's World Cup in France.

And while he has had a bit of a learning curve in working with his new club and in women's football overall, the former Manchester United, Everton and England midfielder says his role is no different than that of Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino or Ryan Giggs.

The 42-year-old Neville, who spent a year on David Moyes' coaching staff at Old Trafford, moved over to the women's game last January and believes the squad is ready to make history.

"We have raised expectation levels and the pressure is on us to win," Neville told ESPN.com. "But ultimately, it's football. ... It's a pitch, the same size goals and ball. It's going out on the pitch to put on a football session to win a game, so I'm doing no different to what Ryan or Nicky are doing, or Klopp or Pochettino.

England women's national team coach Phil Neville looks to improve on the squad's third-place showing in the 2015 Women's World Cup.
England women's national team coach Phil Neville looks to improve on the squad's third-place showing in the 2015 Women's World Cup.

"I am coaching a football team to win a World Cup, to win a trophy, so the values and training sessions, the way you act, remains the same."

Within months of Mark Sampson's firing in 2017 for "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" during his time in charge at Bristol Academy, Neville was signed through the end of Euro 2021 despite concerns over his lack of experience (this is Neville's first full-time managing job).

He said he had to quickly learn about his players, and the women's game overall.

"It took me probably ten days to get some kind of knowledge of players," he said. "When I went to Valencia [as an assistant to brother, Gary], I didn't speak Spanish and didn't know much about La Liga apart from Real Madrid and Barcelona, and nobody leveled that criticism of me.

"But what I have done, after working with [England] for 12 months, I have got to know them now -- I know what they are like and what they can do. That isn't a male or female thing, you need time to get to know your players."

And with any national team, a manager is not working with his or her club day in and day out. For Neville, it was for about 10 days once every 5-6 weeks.

"So, I had to get out, get on the road, visit them in clubs and watch them in the [FA Women's Super League] and make sure I knew everything about them," he said. "I had to get to know what motivates them, what scared them, what [challenged them].

"We have just come back from a 10-day training camp in Qatar and, I have to say, for the first time in 12 months, I have a team that's ready to win. It does take time, but this camp has been one where they now understand what I require and I understand what makes them tick, so it's been positive."

England finished third overall at the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada, but Neville believes that, while the United States go into France as favorites, his team must aspire to emerge from the tournament as world champions.

"We are one if the top five teams in the world, so that make us one of the favorites," he said. "The U.S. are probably the top team right now and we have to catch them. When you are approaching this World Cup, there are probably 5 or 6 team capable of winning it and we are one of those teams.

"They did so well to finish third in Canada -- that was an unbelievable achievement. But if we go to the World Cup and finish third, this group of players will be disappointed, and it's why we have to go that extra step.

"Every nation has improved. Women's football is improving faster than you will ever know."

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