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Phil Neville's comments show a lack of respect and sportsmanship

"It is a nonsense game." With those five words, England manager Phil Neville completely devalued the achievements of the Lionesses from four years ago, long before he had any involvement in women's football.

After Laura Bassett's gut-wrenching own goal that knocked England out against Japan at the semi-final stage in the dying minutes to go, the bronze medal they subsequently won against Germany meant everything to them. They beat an old adversary, from the penalty spot no less, to end their tournament on a high.

Four years ago, the Lionesses inspired a generation. The same is true this time around. The difference though is that they had a bronze medal around their neck as proof of their achievements. The Lionesses were welcomed back at the airport by huge crowds of fans and had breakfast at Kensington Palace, invited by Prince William, after their triumph in Canada, the highest an England team of any gender has finished at a major tournament since 1966.

They were also welcomed to 10 Downing Street by then Prime Minister David Cameroon as well as enjoying a visit to Centre Court at Wimbledon. Quite a big fuss for what Neville considered an unimportant game.

12 members of the squad from four years ago were also present in Neville's squad this summer. Ask them if the third-place play off is a "nonsense game" and it is highly likely they will be offended at the mere suggestion that their bronze medal somehow didn't matter just because it wasn't gold.

Photo: Twitter/@England

The England boss and his side made no secret of their desire to win the Women's World Cup. He even went as far as to say they would have failed if they did not achieve their objective.

Ultimately they didn't win the tournament or reach the final because they weren't good enough. By Neville's own admission, they have failed. Then they failed to leave the tournament with any concrete proof of their achievements as they lost 2-1 to Sweden in the third-place play off.

The style of play may be different from 2015, more attractive football being played on the ground rather than in the air, but in the cold light of day, England will see this tournament as one filled with missed chances and wasted opportunities.

Neville and England should have done better and talk of inspiring a generation, as good as that is, seems to mask the fact that they weren't good enough on the pitch and will return home empty-handed.

Perhaps Neville's comments should just be passed off as something said in the heat of the moment after a month-long tournament.

However, it is guaranteed that he would not have had the same thing to say if he was wearing a bronze medal around his neck when the match finished.

Congratulations to Sweden on winning their third bronze medal at the Women's World Cup (they beat Germany in 1991 and France in 2011). Their celebrations at the final whistle showed the third-place play off game is anything but "nonsense".

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