Man Utd icon Phil Neville ‘almost clipped son around head’ after Alba request

Messi inadvertently proving Ronaldo right at Inter Miami

Phil Neville told his son to give his squad number to Jordi Alba and clean his shirt after the legendary former Barcelona star requested the number 18 on his arrival at Inter Miami. Full-back Alba is one of three Nou Camp greats to have made the switch to Florida in the MLS, following in the footsteps of Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi.

The 34-year-old arrived from Catalonia on a free transfer last month and immediately asked to be given the squad number he has favoured throughout his illustrious career.

The only problem for the Spaniard was that the number 18 was already occupied by Harvey Neville, the son of ex-Inter Miami coach and former Manchester United great Phil. But when the 21-year-old told his dad about Alba’s request, the ex-Everton captain made his thoughts on the matter totally clear.

Neville Senior told Taylor Twellman’s Offside podcast: “About a week ago my son came home – he had taken the No.18 because it was a number I had in my career and Harvey took it. He came home and said ‘Dad, Jordi Alba wants my No.18’. I was like ‘what did you say? I hope you said yes’ and he was like ‘well…’ and I almost clipped him round the head!

“This is Jordi Alba – give him your number and clean his shirt every day! I said if I was you I would ask him to sign his first shirt ‘to Harvey, from Jordi Alba’.”

Neville was sacked as manager of Inter Miami following a dismal run of results that left the sunshine state outfit rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But it has been a different story since then.

After Neville was replaced by former Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino, all-time great Messi stunned the world of football by turning down a huge contract in Saudi Arabia to join David Beckham’s struggling MLS club.

He was shorlty followed by free agents Busquests and Alba to form a trio of ex-Barca players at the club – and the reversal in fortunes has been as swift as you could imagine. Since the arrival of the Barca three, Miami have ended their winless run by stringing together six straight victories, reaching the Leagues Cup final as a consequence.

Messi’s impact has been instant, firing in nine goals in his first six appearances.

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The new feel-good vibe around Miami could be considered bitter-sweet for Neville, who has had to depart from the club beforehand to help forge a new frontier at Miami but he still has his own son on the books playing alongside some of the most successful players in Europe.

But the six-times Premier League winner is determined to have another crack at management in the MLS, a league that he insists he is still passionate about.

Neville said: “This country has been incredible for me. I loved coaching in the MLS. I love everything about MLS – the football, the styles. There have been many challenges. I’ve had brilliant experiences and this has been one of the most challenging. It’s a brilliant league. I feel as though I’ve got unfinished business, I want to prove in MLS I can do a good job.”

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