The Lionesses manager thinks his side are on the right track despite being beaten by the reigning Women’s World Cup champions
The United States may have beaten England to return to the Women’s World Cup final, but Phil Neville is adamant his Lionesses will eventually bridge the gap.
England suffered a third successive semi-final defeat at a major tournament as Jill Ellis’ defending champions claimed a 2-1 victory in Lyon even without an injured Megan Rapinoe to reach their third straight final.
Rapinoe’s replacement, Christen Press, headed in the first and though Ellen White equalised for the Lionesses, Alex Morgan scored what proved to be the winner as Steph Houghton had a late penalty saved by USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
USA can now move into England’s hotel, with members of their backroom team having controversially done so before the semi-final, but Neville warned that they will not remain on their perch forever having seen how his old club Manchester United have struggled since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
“They can now have our hotel,” Neville joked.
“They’re the standard-bearers. I played for a football club that won a lot in a long space of time. We were the ones that everyone wanted to catch.
“Eventually teams caught Man United and eventually we will catch USA. At the moment they’re the best team because of that winning mentality.
“We will get there, we are closing the gap.
“We’ve got to keep investing in the pathway, driving standards within our leagues and young players. We’ve got to keep having sustained success and keep building the momentum that we’ve got.
“America have got that winning mentality of knowing what it means to win. We will get that, we’re learning that, developing that, coaching that every single day.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. We will get there.”
England pushed their vaunted opponents hard, particularly in the second half, when White saw a goal disallowed by a fractional offside call and captain Steph Houghton missed a penalty.
The Lionesses will be looking to bounce back with a win in the third-place play-off against either the Netherlands or Sweden on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s final.
From there, minds will be cast further ahead with the 2020 Olympics and Euro 2021 next on the agenda. Neville is expected to lead a Team GB side dominated by England players at the Olympics, with the Euros to be held on home soil.
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