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What next for England?

It’s safe to say, after 19 months in charge of the Lionesses, the honeymoon period with Phil Neville is over and the questions of progress made under the novice manager are coming thicker and faster than ever.

As hosts, England are in a relative bubble until Euro 2021 kicks off, the team set to bounce from one friendly to another over the next 22 months. But after the first two since the World Cup this summer, Neville’s England have been under fire and for the first time since Hope Powell left the job in 2013, the Lionesses have lost three of their last four matches. Including a World Cup semi-final and third-place match, there is undoubtedly be more leeway from Neville’s critics but the performances have still been nothing to write home about.

Most troubling of all, the same basic mistakes keep coming back to haunt the team as sloppy defending and a serious inability to defend crosses into the box have lead to the bulk of goals conceded by the Lionesses.

Although the manager has been grabbing headlines this week for all his talk off of the pitch, it’s hard to get over what’s happening on it. On paper, England’s friendly match in Belgium looked like nothing more than results-padding until the Red Flames came back from two goals down to lead. A well taken penalty from Nikita Parris all to stop England from losing all four of their last matches.

Up next for the Lionesses is Brazil in Middlesbrough next month before Germany in November. Up against a struggling and highly transitional Brazil squad, anything less than a win will be a deeply worrying sign for England and will only bring Neville’s methods under closer scrutiny. However, a win might be enough to keep his critics at bay until the Lionesses face Germany in front of a packed house at Wembley.

Away from bluster and player invention, the only thing certain is the results do not make for pretty reading for a team that is supposed to be among the world’s elite.

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