BBC bench Phil Neville for Iran and Nigeria

Broadcaster receives more than 400 complaints about Italy commentary

Phil Neville has admitted working as a commentator is "harder than I thought" after hundreds of viewers complained about his on-air performance during the World Cup game between England and Italy.

Neville, who played for Manchester United and Everton, was criticised for his lack of emotion and monotone style.

Many viewers took to Twitter to criticise him, with several joking that England physio Gary Lewin who was stretchered off after injuring his ankle had actually ’fallen into a coma’ listening to Neville

A BBC spokeswoman said there were 445 complaints after Saturday night’s game, which pulled in a peak audience of 15.6 million viewers.

Neville told Radio 5 Live: “Co-commentary is harder than I thought it would be.

“I will get better, I’m glad I helped everybody sleep!”

Fellow broadcaster Danny Baker was among his critics, but said the BBC should share the blame.

Baker said: “Phil Neville has acknowledged he wasn’t great during England commentary. But what were the BBC doing giving him THAT game to ‘learn his craft’?”

The BBC said Neville, who has received broadcasting training, was an important member of the BBC team and would continue to play a key role throughout the tournament.

His next appearance is expected to be as a studio guest for tonight's game between Iran and Nigeria.

Neville is not the only broadcaster to be on the receiving end of criticism.

His BBC colleague Jonathan Pearce was mocked on Twitter after he appeared to be confused by the use of goal-line technology during France's game with Honduras.

He later thought France had scored when Blaise Matuidi’s effort had nestled in the side-netting.

Surprisingly, a BBC spokeswoman said no complaints had been received about Pearce.