Manchester United Can't Be Pioneers Without a Women's Team, Says Phil Neville

New England women's manager Phil Neville is calling on Manchester United to catch up with other elite clubs across Britain and form a women's team.

Neville was appointed head coach of the national team last week and was unveiled on Monday (January 29) amid scrutiny of his historical sexist tweets, which he apologized for.

The 41-year-old former defender, who signed a four-year deal, insisted he was the "right man" for the job and says his new role has brought a renewed energy around the team.

"I believe people are genuinely excited about the appointment," said Neville, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "The players are the most important aspect to me and they are excited. There is a thirst to learn."

But Neville won't be able to pick players from the club where he spent the majority of his career. Manchester United, who Neville represented 263 times over the course of 11 years, are yet to form a female team and are the only top-flight club not to have one. But Neville says he will lobby to change that.

"I will be encouraging them," said Neville. "They have a fantastic community programme for female players and coaches.

"When they do set out their women's team it will be one to challenge City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool. A club of the size of United should be the leaders, the pioneers. I am sure they are working to do that."

Phil Neville
Phil Neville at St George's Park, Burton-upon-Trent, England, January 29. Neville is urging Manchester United to form a women's team. Gareth Copley/Getty

Last year, the Football Association announced a bid for the next European Women's Championship, to be held in 2021, three days after the final of Euro 2017. The bid, the FA hopes, will push Manchester United to join the Women's Super League (WSL).

A club spokesman said in August: "We continue to monitor the situation and will make a decision when the time is right."

Martin Glenn, the FA chief executive, said England would "take it up a level" if the country was awarded the European Championships. Of the WSL, he said: "They're a smart organization and I think the incentives for competing in the Super League are going to continue to grow."