Phil Neville yelling at Megan Rapinoe during a 2018 SheBelieves Cup game.

Plenty of British newspapers are known for being terrible about soccer transfer rumors (and many other things), but it’s rare to see one report something that’s both A. possible to actually prove true or false and B. reported as false by multiple plugged-in reporters within minutes. That’s what the Daily Mail did Monday evening, though, running an “EXCLUSIVE” story from Matt Hughes that England women’s soccer coach Phil Neville (seen above yelling at Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. during the 2018 SheBelieves Cup) is the U.S. women’s team’s “top target” to replace the stepping-down Jill Ellis. That story got quickly dunked on by a variety of people who regularly report on U.S. soccer, including Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, Rachel Bachman of The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Tannenwald of The Philadelphia Inquirer and more:

And as Tannenwald noted in a subsequent tweet, the timing here’s interesting considering the criticism Neville recently was receiving over his comments to Katie Whyatt of The Telegraph, comments that even played up his desire to stay with England:

So, yeah, it seems Phil Neville to the USWNT is probably not happening. And what’s really funny is that the Daily Mail could have avoided some the dunkings if they just ran a typical mealy-mouthed transfer rumor that you couldn’t disprove, such as “U.S. women’s team might have interest in Phil Neville.” (Yes, and the sun might not rise tomorrow.) But instead, they went harder and tried to further sell their story with “No. 1 target,” something that’s definitely possible to actually refute (as the reporters here did). Even the actual Daily Mail story goes quite a ways towards refuting its own No. 1 target claim, though:

Phil Neville is the shock No 1 target to become the new manager of the United States women’s team.

…Ellis, however, will have a significant say in appointing her successor and Sportsmailunderstands that she has been impressed by the work Neville has done since he became England manager in January 2018.

Neville is under contract with the Football Association until 2021 and they have been planning to renegotiate his terms on the back of the World Cup but have not yet set a date for talks.

Sources in the United States have confirmed the 42-year-old has impressed Ellis and other figures within the US Federation but there has been no contact with Neville or The FA.

Oh, Neville has merely “impressed” “Ellis and other figures within the US Federation,” and that makes him a “No. 1 target”? Right. That seems believable. And it’s amazing to see how quickly this one got refuted, and how it was refuted by multiple reporters who seem much more plugged-in to U.S. soccer than the writer of this article. Good job, good effort, Daily Mail.

[Grant Wahl on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.