Being a male coach limits Neville's team time at World Cup
VALENCIENNES, France (AP) — Having a male coach spares the England Women's World Cup squad from being subjected to a lengthy verbal barrage in the dressing room.
Phil Neville, who was accustomed to receiving the renowned "hairdryer treatment" from Alex Ferguson during his Manchester United career, only has a couple of minutes to dish out halftime instructions to his Lionesses. Immediately after coming off the field, the players have some time without their coach since he limits his time in the dressing room.
"It allows me just time to breathe, speak to my three assistants," Neville said ahead of Sunday's round of 16 meeting with Cameroon. "As a player, when you come into the dressing room you are highly charged and highly emotional. Probably that's the optimal time to let them have their room to vent at each other, vent at themselves and when I come up in they have clarity of mind to listen to my team talk."
Neville doesn't want to take up too much of the 15-minute break.
"I need only two minutes with them," he said Saturday. "If I need longer we're in serious trouble."
Half of the managers in the round of 16 are men — including Cameroon's Alain Djeumfa, who will coach against Neville on Sunday in Valenciennes.
The post-match routine also varies with having a male manager in charge of a women's team and the new FIFA regulations that have players facing a line of reporters immediately after leaving the field.
Neville conducts the post-match debrief in view of the world. In the huddle on the field the emotions can be in full view, and Neville was seen comforting Fran Kirby after the second game against Argentina.
"It's difficult at the end of the game," Neville said. "In the women's game a lot of huddles do go on the pitch after the game because of the fact if you're a male manager you don't go back into the dressing room."
FIFA said it gives no instructions to Women's World Cup teams regarding access to the dressing room for male managers.
"What we decided as group is we had to speak to the players before they speak to the media because they like to know what I'm thinking, they like messages," Neville said. "Normally, you go into the dressing groom and the manager gives a conclusion of the game and they go out probably singing from the same hymn sheet.
"Straight from these games they have to go straight down the tunnel. They are emotional, tired, fatigued. So we just like that little three to four minutes of clarity in our thinking."