Phil Neville defended his appointment as England Women manager as he insisted: “I cannot be more qualified for this job than what I am.”
Neville was chosen as the permanent successor to Mark Sampson last week despite no prior experience of working in the women’s game while the controversy inflamed when he had to apologise for past remarks made about women on Twitter.
The 41-year-old, though, pointed to his relevant coaching qualifications and his time as Valencia assistant as reasons to suggest he can be successful in his new role.
“I’ve coached the best players in the men’s game at the top level and I believe the players I’ll be coaching in the England women’s team are top-class professionals at the elite level.
“I’ve done all my qualifications, I did my B-Licence when I was 24, my A-Licence when I was 28 and I’ve got my UEFA Pro-Licence. I cannot be more qualified for this job than what I am.
“When I took the qualifications and (I was) handed my certificate, I wasn’t told ‘you can only work in the men’s game’, so I think it’s a coaching badge to coach football.
“I have watched the women’s game. Do I know everything about it? No, but I will. I’m a fast learner. When I went to Spain, I only knew three players in the Valencia team, I didn’t know anything about LaLiga and within six months I knew everything, I was speaking another language and I knew everything about the game.”
The former Manchester United defender and Everton captain was appointed until the end of the 2021 UEFA Women’s Championship campaign last Tuesday but he soon faced a chorus of disapproval for historic comments he made on Twitter.
One in 2012 said he did not expect women to have read his posts in a morning because they would be “preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds”, while in 2011 it was widely reported he wrote he “just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!”.
Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out branded the remarks “misogynistic and sexist” and although the Football Association deemed they did not “meet the threshold for issuing a charge”, Neville apologised and addressed his tweets once more at his first media opportunity on Monday.
He said: “The words that I used in 2011 and 2012 were not good in 2011 and 2012 as Everton captain, as a Premier League player, as a father, and they’re not right now. That’s why I apologised.
“I think people that know me, that have been around my company, that are part of my family, that have watched me over the last 41 years know that it’s not a true reflection of my character and the way that I was brought up by my parents.
“I apologise wholeheartedly for the words that I used and that’s why I issued my apology last Wednesday because they’re not right today and they weren’t right back then.”