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Phil Neville insists 'just battered the wife' tweet referred to a game of table tennis

The new England women’s head coach believes he is the right man for the job.

Neville spoke to the media today.
Neville spoke to the media today.
Image: Nick Potts

NEW ENGLAND WOMEN’S head coach Phil Neville has said he “cannot be more qualified” to take on the role, defending his appointment that was overshadowed by sexist tweets.

The 41-year-old was named Lionesses boss last Tuesday, but has no past experience of working in the women’s game and lacks overall management experience.

The former Manchester United, Everton and England defender succeeds Mark Sampson, who was sacked in September over allegations of misconduct in a previous role and amid a racism row that led to widespread criticism of senior FA figures.

“I’ve done all of my qualifications, I cannot be more qualified for this job than what I am,” Neville told Sky Sports, saying that getting the job ranks high among his achievements.

“We agreed that I was the right man for the job and I’ve got to say that it was probably one of the highlights of my career.

Take everything I’ve done on the football field and since then, it was a special moment because being manager of the national team is the ultimate honour and I’ve got that now.”

After ending his playing career, Neville assisted David Moyes at Manchester United and then brother Gary at Valencia, roles he said had given him experience of working with elite players.

“[Regarding] experience, I would have thought that not many candidates that applied for the job have the experience that I’ve got of coaching elite players,” he said.

“I’ve coached the best players in the men’s game at the top level and I believe the players I’ll be coaching in the England women’s team are top-class professionals at the elite level.

“I’ve done all my qualifications. I did my B-licence when I was 24, my A-licence when I was 28 and I’ve got my Uefa Pro-Licence. I cannot be more qualified for this job than what I have.”

Old messages from Neville’s twitter handle @fizzer18 re-appeared shortly after he was appointed.

They included a 2012 post that said: “U women of (sic) always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills #hypocrites”.

Neville appeared to delete his Twitter account after the comments were re-published and subsequently apologised while the Football Association said he would not be punished.

Speaking to the BBC’s Dan Roan today, he insisted he wasn’t sexist and claimed a message that read “Just battered the wife, feel better now!” referred to winning in table tennis while on holiday.

“I can explain it,” he said. “It’s the words that don’t sit well with me, I’m not happy about them. I was on holiday at the time. In isolation, they look terrible but it was relating to a game of sport — table tennis and basketball — while on holiday with my wife.

“I’m a competitive person, so is my wife. In isolation, those words were wrong and that’s the reason I apologise. It’s inappropriate as England manager and as Everton captain, as I was then.”

- © AFP, 2018

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