ALTHOUGH he is living on his own in Liverpool, Everton assistant manager Chris Roberts reckons he is luckier than most.

Players and staff at the FA Women’s Super League club continue to be paid their full salaries while, according to Roberts, Everton have been exemplary in providing support.

“They have been outstanding,” the former Hibernian head coach said. “The attitude from the outset was there’s going to be a lock down, so let’s look after the players and staff.

“I’m so grateful to be here, because I’d imagine there are a lot of clubs which don’t give the same level of support, which includes regular communication from our chief executive on all government and FA updates.

“There was nothing mentioned about going on furlough. Everton made a point of paying all the staff early in the first month, just to ensure everybody was stable and not under stress. Little things like that have set the club apart.”

While Roberts remains on Merseyside, the club’s overseas players – two from the Netherlands, and one each from Australia, France and Finland – have departed. Captain and midfielder Lucy Graham has also returned to Scotland.

“We took the decision to get our players home, foreseeing this was probably not going to be a short-term thing.” Roberts, who works in tandem with fellow Scot and Everton manager Willie Kirk, pointed added: “It lets them be close to their families at a difficult time. All our players are in contact with the staff a minimum of four times a week. That can be anything from a general catch-up to development and analysis work using footage and video clips. There are two group yoga sessions a week and physio support. Our performance psychologist helps the players stay focused and positive.

“The club also sent out gym equipment to all the girls when the lock down started. Some of the top men’s players may have their own gyms at home, but I don’t imagine too many of the girls have that luxury.

“It’s a lot of contact, but we’re not hitting them with work, work, work. If anything, we’re having to make sure they’re not over-training. That’s why it’s a privilege to work in the women’s game, because you see the players’ dedication to what they have to do.”

It’s anybody’s guess as to whether the WSL season can be completed, but regardless of whether it is or not Everton shouldn’t be hugely affected. They were seventh of 12 teams when the season ground to a halt and so won’t be impacted by any title and relegation decisions which might have to be made.

If the season can’t resume it doesn’t look good for Everton’s rivals Liverpool, who are bottom of the table and would presumably drop down to the Championship. There are also going to be unhappy players and managers at two of the top three clubs – Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – if the season can’t reach to its scheduled conclusion.

“Every possible solution is accompanied by a minefield,” Roberts said. “And another issue is that Aston Villa have put an enormous effort in this season to get promoted, so it would be really harsh on them if for whatever reason they didn’t.”

STAYING south of the border, the decision of the FA and Phil Neville to part ways at the end of his contract next summer has polarised opinion. He should, of course, have managed England at Euro 2021, but Uefa’s eventual confirmation that the tournament has been put back twelve months scuppered that plan.

While many within the game have a high regard for the job Neville has been doing, that opinion does not appear to be shared by supporters and most media pundits. What is unarguable is that his record was worse than his predecessor, Mark Sampson, and that England have lost seven of their last eleven games and won only three.

No matter how likeable and conscientious you are – and Neville is both – that’s not a record which sits well in a country like England.

The imponderable now is whether he will take charge of “Team GB”, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Football Association, at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next year. It says everything about this misguided project – which, to their collective shame, was given a passive nod by the football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – that the manager of “Team GB” must also be the manager of England.