England women's manager Phil Neville praises 'foundations' left by ex-boss Mark Sampson

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Phil Neville praises England women's 'bravery' & 'courage'

Phil Neville has praised the "brilliant foundations" left by his predecessor Mark Sampson after starting his reign as England women head coach with a win over France in the SheBelieves Cup.

The 4-1 victory in the United States was only the second time England have beaten France in 44 years.

Sampson was sacked in September, after 'inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour' in a previous role.

"I've been lucky," said Neville, who was appointed head coach in January.

"The previous manager left me with brilliant foundations. I've just come in and challenged them to do things better than they have done before and they've taken that challenge on," he added after the win in Columbus, Ohio.

The Football Association terminated Sampson's contract following allegations of his behaviour with female players when he was Bristol Academy manager in 2014.

During Sampson's tenure, England reached the Euro 2017 semi-finals, losing to eventual winners the Netherlands, having come third at the 2015 World Cup - their best finish at the tournament.

Neville's appointment raised some eyebrows due to his lack of experience, especially in the women's game.

But the former Manchester United and England defender was quick to divert the attention following a winning start to his reign.

"It's not about me, I know my qualities," he said. "I knew what I wanted from this set of players and the players have delivered and full credit to the team."

Phil Neville's England beat France 4-1 in SheBelieves Cup

Goals from Toni Duggan, Jill Scott and Jodie Taylor in the first half were followed up by a fourth after the break from Fran Kirby.

But Neville says it was always about the performance over the result.

"I said to them before the game, win lose or draw as long as they are doing the right things they'll never get criticised from me and it was a real pleasing performance and I think we all enjoyed it," he said.

"I think bravery is the one word I've used more than any other word in the last three days. It's easy saying it but the hardest thing is to do it.

"My players played with massive courage against a side that, say what you want, we've been really poor against."

England face Germany on Sunday, before USA next Thursday.

"We've got two massive tests to come, I think the next games will be bigger tests, will be tougher games, we're looking forward to the challenge," Neville added.

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