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'I'd go to my grave with these players' - Neville takes full responsibility for poor England form

01:30 EAT 11/11/2019
Phil Neville, England
The English boss is under pressure after a run of poor form but won't sacrifice style in order to get results

Phil Neville’s position as England manager is under serious threat for the first time after his Lionesses fell to their fifth defeat in seven against arch-rivals Germany on Saturday.

Neville admitted after the game that he changed the style of play that he had stuck with and defended throughout this torrid run, but even the “more direct” approach couldn’t bring with it an improved performance as the Germans left with a 2-1 win thanks to Klara Buhl’s stoppage time winner.

As England prepare to take on minnows Czech Republic on Tuesday, anything but a win could be incredibly costly for the 42-year-old, who has assumed responsibility for the team’s recent form.

“As a manager you want to live and die by your beliefs, but ultimately the run that we are on means something has to change,” he said.

“Performance levels have to change and it is up to me to find that formula. I take responsibility for that.

“Our tactic [vs Germany] was to go away from the style of performance we have promoted and play more direct.

“There were probably more forward balls played down the side than have ever been played under my tenure.”

But the change in approach is not something we should expect to see going forward, with Neville adamant that his team need to play attractive, attacking football – and get results.

“For the long-term development of English football and the long term development of the Lionesses we have to play this style of football,” he said.

“It is the right way to play, it is the England DNA. It is the way Gareth [Southgate] is playing, that I am playing, that the pathway coaches are playing on both sides, it is what we believe in.

“I do think it is the right way to play football, it is just we need to get better at it faster than we are at the moment. 

“We are being punished for mistakes, for the expansiveness of our style, but we need to get better because the mistakes are coming not because of the shape we are in but little technical errors that we are working on all the time.

“I am hoping, and [this is] what we are working on, that the DNA we want to set into the players [comes] eventually, at the big occasion.

“Whether [that is] at the Olympics, or Euro 2021 or the World Cup in 2023, this is the way we are going as the FA, as a group of coaches.

“For me it is the only way to play: entertaining, attacking football.

“I know we have to win games, and we have won games, but at the moment we are not and we have to look at a way of finding a tweak to make sure we start winning games again.”

Asked whether he believes it is an issue within the squad and his players, Neville refuted the idea.

“I'd go to my grave with these players and their attitudes,” he said.

“That's why I want to take responsibility. My performances haven't been good enough and you can see that with the results we've got.

“I will protect them. They know they've got my trust and belief, but we've got to make sure we're better.”