IT’S time to be realistic.
The Lionesses have not lived up to the hype, and failing to finish third in this World Cup is a wake-up call.
I don’t want to be sat here in two years’ time after a home Euros and be talking about ‘how close we came’ again.
We can’t keep using that as an excuse.
The pressure going into a home Euros will be huge.
You need to win that or risk the embarrassment of going out of a tournament on home soil.
We fell short this summer and the Lionesses need to be held accountable — especially as four years ago we were coming home with a bronze medal.
Now we’re coming home with absolutely nothing.
Nothing to show for the investment, the resources or having a fully professional league in this country.
England need to start building again as they could be without some of those experienced senior players next time around.
But will they give Phil Neville the time he needs to lead the team through that transition?
Phil has done enough to be the manager to take us into our next major tournament and it would be harsh to give him the sack.
I don’t like to make comparisons between former managers because they all bring a unique style.
Phil has tried to evolve our style of play and at this level that is needed.
Mark Sampson’s focus was being defensive and being difficult to concede against.
But our defence has been one of our weakest links at this tournament.
We were getting opened up for fun and need to find a balance. England have to to go back to basics with defensive drills.
Most of my football education was under Hope Powell and were some of her training sessions boring? Yes. But were they necessary? Yes. We fully understood what we needed to do as a defensive unit.
I’m not going to lie, it sucks when you come back from a World Cup.
You’ve been in a bubble for four weeks.
You’ve stayed in hotels, had your food cooked for you. You train, you come back, recover and sleep.
When you get home you’re just sat on your sofa.
You even have to think about what you’re going to cook for dinner.
It can be tough getting back into the swing of things — especially now when players have nothing to show for the hard work and sacrifices.
You’ve been building up for that World Cup for four years and then, today, you’re just back at home.
It’s over. It’s done.
And we haven’t even got a bronze medal.
I hope Phil woke up yesterday morning and realised his ‘nonsense game’ remark was just the raw emotion talking.
It is NOT a ‘nonsense game’.
In 2015, that bronze medal match was everything.
It had the power to move women’s football forward to the point where we had the funding and resources to be going into this World Cup as the best-prepared team.
This summer we’ve missed an opportunity.
If we had won this World Cup it would have been like a 99ers movement.
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I can just imagine the scenes and the parades we would have had.
It is great that people you didn’t think would be interested in the women’s game are now talking about the Lionesses.
But at the same time we are all talking about what could have been.