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Sunday 18 August 2019

Neville tells Lionesses: We must become serial winners

WINNING MENTALITY: England coach Phil Neville. Pic: Reuters
WINNING MENTALITY: England coach Phil Neville. Pic: Reuters

England coach Phil Neville wants his women's side to "develop the serial winner mentality" - and said going home from the World Cup on the back of a semi-final defeat "would represent failure".

The Lionesses produced the most impressive display of their campaign in France so far with a 3-0 win over Norway on Thursday to reach the last four of a major tournament for the third successive time. Waiting next in Lyon tomorrow night are world champions USA, who beat the hosts 2-1 at Parc des Princes as they target a fourth World Cup win.

It is such determination to be the best which Neville believes England must emulate if they are to make the most of their opportunity.

"A semi-final defeat would represent failure. This England team is ready to win now," Neville said.

"I said to the players this morning that it would be easy now for them to think 'whatever happens now, we have got to the semi-final, my reputation is intact, we'll probably get invited to Downing Street, everybody loves us at home'. I don't want that.

"We have to develop the serial winner mentality. We have to develop ruthlessness. We have to be even braver. The only way for us to go back home is as winners."

Neville accepts England must raise their performance levels yet again to get past the USA, whose "ruthlessness is their strength".

He said: "We have got to be 20 per cent braver than we have ever been before to win this game.

"This is the game we wanted. We have always known that when we got to the World Cup, we had to beat the USA if we were going to win the tournament.

"This is the moment my players have been waiting for. We are not going to back away from this challenge. We've prepared for this.

"We are in great shape. I don't think they will look forward to playing us. If they are looking at teams who can challenge them, we will be number one or two on their list."

Neville had arranged for Dame Katherine Grainger - the most-decorated British female Olympian with five rowing medals - to record a video for his squad as they prepared for the quarter- final against Norway.

Neville said: ''I wanted them to hear her message - winning hurts.

"We have to suffer and go beyond our expectations.

"What she told them had a more powerful effect than anything I could have said." The second semi-final sees Holland play Sweden on Wednesday.

England are among the top three European sides at the World Cup, which secures a place for Britain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Neville added: "I will be the coach that takes the team to the Olympics. It is going to be very special, but let's go and win a World Cup first."

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