Rachel Brown-Finnis wanted female England boss ahead of Phil Neville

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Former England Women goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis would have preferred to see a female appointed as head coach of the national side ahead of Phil Neville but believes there were no suitable candidates.

Neville, a former England defender, was named the permanent successor to Mark Sampson despite having no previous managerial experience – although he has had coaching stints with former club Manchester United as well as Valencia.

Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes ruled herself out of contention by signing a new long-term contract with the Women’s Super League side while Mo Marley, who was in interim charge of the side, is reported to have withdrawn from consideration after initially applying for the post.

And Brown-Finnis, who earned 82 caps for the national side between 1997 and 2013, thinks it would have been inappropriate for the Football Association to prioritise gender being a critical factor in their search for Sampson’s replacement.

Brown-Finnis told BBC Radio 5 live: “I’d love for a female to be in charge of the national team but if they didn’t have the right candidate then I think they shouldn’t hire someone just because they’re female.

“Phil Neville doesn’t have that senior level management experience but what he does bring is pretty unique.

“The FA needed to think outside the box. They have gone for someone who has won at the highest level.

“He trained and played as a top level player in an era when Man United won everything. He has that level of excellence that the players will thrive on.

“A lot of people have said he has no experience coaching females but he has got experience which previous managers have not had.”

Another former England goalkeeper, Pauline Cope-Bonas, was far more critical of Neville’s appointment.

She told BBC Radio 5 live: “A lot of people are disappointed because probably he hasn’t been to a women’s game. He’s never worked within the women’s game and that’s the crux of it.

“It is different. We deal with emotional things, women have women’s problems, monthly problems, relationship problems. Our work ethic is just as good, our technique is just as good, our professionalism is just as good.

“It’s just that dealing with a group of women is different to dealing with guys.

“I feel sorry for the coaches who have worked their way up the ladder, they’ve not been given a look-in. Why didn’t Mo Marley get it?”

Neville has already courted controversy after a historical tweet posted in 2012 caused a Twitter storm.

“Morning men couple of hours cricket be4 work sets me up nicely for the day,” Neville wrote.

When asked why he only referred to men in his post, Neville replied: “When I said morning men I thought the women would of been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds-sorry morning women!”

Neville subsequently deleted the sexist post and then appeared to remove his Twitter account, @fizzer18, which was unavailable to users.

Neville replaces Sampson, who was accused of racism by England striker Eni Aluko, although he was eventually sacked for “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in a previous role with Bristol Academy.

That prompted the FA to turn to England under-19 coach Marley as a caretaker manager and she led England to a 1-0 defeat by France in a friendly in October and two convincing World Cup qualifying wins over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

England’s next qualifying game is against Wales in Southampton on April 6.

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