Can Phil Neville Cling On As Inter Miami Coach?

Can Phil Neville Cling On As Inter Miami Coach?

Coach Phil Neville

It’s often said that you should never mix business with pleasure. The intention of the phrase is that you should never do business with your partner or friends. The reason it’s such an important piece of received wisdom is that if you do business with your friends and things go wrong, your personal relationship is at risk. Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham might be reflecting on that piece of wisdom at the moment. There’s no doubt that he played a big role in persuading his former Manchester United and England teammate to take over as coach at the club – and right now, he has plenty of reasons to regret that decision.

Break Losing Streak

When Inter Miami beat CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale on August 1st, it was the team’s first win since May. That came off the back of a battling draw against Philadelphia Union a few days earlier, which ended a run of six consecutive defeats for the beleaguered team. The haul of four points in two games might make it feel like the team is turning a corner, but it’s a huge corner to turn. The Herons’ form before that draw wasn’t just bad; it was atrocious. During that six-game losing streak they scored just twice and never looked like they had answers to the questions their opponents asked of them. There were reports in England that Neville’s job was on the line. We may never know how true those reports were, but the thought of making a change must surely have occurred to Beckham and his partners.

Football in the US is not yet the same as football at the highest level in Europe when it comes to chopping and changing coaches. A losing streak of six games in the English Premier League would get any coach fired, just as it would in Spain’s La Liga. You’d probably struggle to hold onto a job in the top flight in Italy or Germany with a losing streak like that, too. In MLS, coaches still get a little more respect and patience.

There’s also an understanding at Inter Miami that the team is still new, and even with a big budget and marquee players, it takes time to find an approach that works. Neville has benefited from all of these factors. He’s likely to be given more time to prove that this minor turnaround can become a full recovery, but there will be a clock ticking somewhere.

Inter Miami

Inter Miami

Red Flag

In the cold light of day, appointing Neville was a risk. Prior to managing Inter Miami, he’d never coached a senior men’s team before. His only experience as the main man in the dugout came during his three years in charge of the England women’s team. When the Lionesses won the SheBelieves Cup in 2019, his managerial career looked like it was off to a good start. The team’s form dipped soon after that, though, and few fans of the team were sad to see him go when he finally stepped down after a prolonged farewell tour in early 2021.

It’s thought that the availability of the Inter Miami job was a factor in his departure. The warning signs were already there even back then. He’d lost seven of his prior eleven games at the time of his resignation, and the fact that he wouldn’t lead the team into the postponed Euro 2021 tournament was seen as a positive.

Phil Neville’s Resume

Before coaching the England women’s team, all of Neville’s coaching experience had either been as an assistant or with youth teams. His tenure as assistant manager of Valencia in Spain was a disaster. After initially being hired to work under Nuno Espirito Santo, he quickly found himself working beneath his brother, Gary. Valencia fans still speak of their time watching the Neville brothers mismanage their club as a nightmare. They won only three out of sixteen league games, conceded at least one goal in every game, crashed out of the Champions League, and recorded a 7-0 loss to Barcelona. On top of this, neither of them could speak Spanish.

The only thing that was surprising about their eventual dismissal from their roles was the fact it took so long. When you look at the full history of Phil Neville as a coach, his brief success with England’s women is the sole high in an otherwise relentless series of lows.

Taking a Risk

It’s never a nice feeling to admit you’ve made a mistake, and nor is it nice to tell a friend that things aren’t working out. There’s also a risk to switch coaches midseason because you never know how things are going to work out. It’s like playing slots online and watching your bankroll slowly ebb away. When that happens, you have a decision to make. Do you carry on playing the online slots game you’ve already put so much money into it, or do you go back to the menu screen and pick a different slot? For a football club, it’s a much bigger dilemma than that. An online slots player at least has the option of calling it quits and giving up while they still have some money and pride left.

Replace Neville?

A football club has to keep going. Inter Miami can try their luck by replacing Neville and seeing if things improve, or they can keep their man until the end of the season and hope he repays their faith. At the moment, it looks like they’ll take the latter option, but you can never be sure in football.

Phil Neville is a dedicated, hard-working man. He was noted for his passion and commitment during his playing career and respected for the same. He won multiple Premier League trophies with Manchester United as well as the all-important UEFA Champions League. When he moved to Everton later in his career, he went on to become one of their best captains of the Premier League era. On the pitch, he was both a winner and a leader. He’s yet to consistently prove that he can accomplish either of those things as a coach.

Conclusion

Neville’s personal relationship with Beckham probably means that he’ll get more time to put things right than any other coach in his shoes would, but even his friend can’t ignore the signs forever.  For Neville’s sake, we hope he’s started a long winning streak.

 

 

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