What's in store for Phil Neville at Inter Miami?

No pressure then, Phil! Neville must get the best out of star-signing Gonzalo Higuain (and maybe Lionel Messi), win over the hardcore fans AND deliver David Beckham’s vision when he takes the reins at Inter Miami

  • Phil Neville is close to being appointed boss of David Beckham’s Inter Miami  
  • It will be the ex-Manchester United player’s first managerial role in club football 
  • Neville has spent the last three years in charge of the England Women’s team
  • Sportsmail takes a look at what the 43-year-old can expect in south Florida 

From Manchester to Miami – it looks like the managerial career of Phil Neville is taking another unexpected turn. 

The current boss of the England Women’s team is set to be appointed manager of Inter Miami, the team part owned by his former team-mate and close friend David Beckham. 

While this will be Neville’s first head coach role in club football, his CV is impressive.

Phil Neville (L) is set to be appointed manager of Inter Miami who are part-owned by his former Manchester United and England team-mate David Beckham (R)

Ex-England captian Beckham has ambitious plans after their inaugural season in 2020

Neville began his coaching career with England’s U21 side before joining his former manager David Moyes at Manchester United in 2013. That didn’t quite go to plan.

In 2014, he took charge of Salford City, the club he co-owns with the Class of 92, for one game alongside Paul Scholes – a 2-1 victory at home to Kendal Town.

Then came the move to Valencia, which saw him work as assistant to four different managers but most notably under his brother Gary from December 2015 to March 2016. While Gary was sacked following a run of poor results, Phil remained until the end of the season before leaving to pursue managerial opportunities – which came when he was offered the role of Lionesses boss in January 2018.

His appointment raised eyebrows, given he hadn’t actually applied for the job or held a permanent manager’s role before, but his start was successful and England topped their World Cup qualifying group and won their first ever SheBelieves Cup in March 2019.  

The Lionesses went on to reach the semi-final of the World Cup where they were defeated by the United States, the eventual winners. 

Results took a turn following the tournament with just three wins in nine games, although most of these were friendlies. Experiments of players in different positions, most notably Lucy Bronze in midfield, didn’t work and it seemed Neville was unsure of what his best starting XI was.   

Neville spent time coaching in Valencia, where he worked under his brother Gary

However, he remained insistent he was the right man to lead the Lionesses forward. 

In a speech that was compared to Jose Mourinho’s ‘Special One’, Neville said: ‘I have a vision that nobody else has. I’ve got bravery that no other coach has probably had. So, do you know what? Thank your lucky stars. I’m here. I’m here to stay. And I’m going to continue to keep improving. I’ve got a long way to go but I think with the set of players we’ve got and with my philosophy, I think we can go a long way. I live and breathe it, and I never have a bad day.’

The 43-year-old has spent the last three years in charge of the England Women’s national team

Neville was set to lead Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics before the coronavirus pandemic struck. The postponement of the tournament and the decision to rearrange the 2021 Women’s European Championship for 2022 saw Neville announce that he would step down from his role at the end of his contract in September this year.  

It’s been an unconventional route, but the 43-year-old looks to have been granted his wish of a full-time management role in club football.

Aside from significantly better weather than Manchester, Sportsmail takes a look at what Neville can expect in south Florida.

The Team

The most recognisable name on the Inter Miami squad list is undoubtedly Gonzalo Higuain. The former Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea striker joined last summer and became the club’s first ‘big-name’ player. However, his debut couldn’t have gone much worse with the 33-year-old missing a penalty before getting involved in a brawl with five opposition players.

Another well-known player is ex-Juventus and France international Blaise Matuidi. 

Gonzalo Higuain (L) and Blaise Matuidi (R) are the most well known players at Inter Miami

Should Neville stick around long enough, there is a chance he could manage an even bigger star with Lionel Messi tipped to join in two years.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is said to have bought a £7.2million apartment in Miami with reports in Spain suggesting the forward will stay at Barcelona until 2023 before moving to the MLS.  

For now, former Celtic and Sunderland midfielder Lewis Morgan was the top scorer and also made the most assists in what was a difficult inaugural season.

With 14 defeats, three draws and seven wins in 24 games, it’s no surprise Diego Alonso’s reign was a short one and there’s certainly plenty of work to be done before the new campaign kicks off in March. 

Neville was keen for his England side to build from the back and he will likely want to implement a similar style at Miami. That may, however, depend on the players at his disposal.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has been tipped to make a move to the MLS in the next two years and reportedly owns an apartment in Miami

The Fans 

Neville is no stranger to passionate fans having played in front of big crowds throughout his career. He’s coached and managed in front of packed stadiums in Valencia and at the Women’s World Cup.

His start to life in Miami may be behind closed doors or in front of just a handful of spectators, but that doesn’t mean he won’t feel the presence of the supporters.

Before the first team had even played a game, a small army of hardcore fans had already attended an Under-13 academy fixture.

The club has three official supporters groups which have been central to the development of the ever-growing fanbase.

The MLS club have three official supporters groups and an army of hardcore fans who have 

Max Ramos-Paez is a member of one of the groups – ‘The Siege’ – and told the i last February that the aim was to create a fanbase that reflects the unique demographic and cultural heritage of south Florida.

‘Miami is an insane melting pot of people – many from Central and South America – and historically they haven’t felt like American soccer spoke to them,’ he said.

‘We’ve adapted a few songs from South American terraces and also Latin pop songs. 

‘We’re trying to take the cultures we come from in terms of football support but add a Miami flavour to it.’ 

Neville’s name will no doubt be familiar to American football fans not just because of his United connections but because of England’s World Cup semi-final with the United States. He’ll need the passionate supporters on side from the start.

The Project   

It’s been an eight-year process for Beckham and Co to get their MLS franchise up and running in the league and their ambition for the club is obvious. 

They want to win the MLS and their long-term goal is to reach the Concacaf Champions League – no pressure, Phil.

Miami has seen football teams come and go in the past, most notably the Fort Lauderdale Strikers whose former players include George Best and Gordan Banks.  

The club has redeveloped the Lockhart stadium which has a capacity of 18,000 with the ambition of winning the MLS and reaching the Concacaf Champions League

They also have a state-of-the-art training complex with the aim of developing their own stars

With a redeveloped stadium and a state-of-the-art training complex, the facilities couldn’t be much better for an incoming manager.

The focus on the club’s youth set-up is also significant with a clear vision to develop their own stars while also recruiting big names from around the world.

Neville may be ‘thanking his lucky stars’ that Beckham has faith in him to deliver the expectations of the owners and the fans. But the idea it will be an easy ride to work under his friend is perhaps unfair. 

Beckham has worked hard to get his club off the ground and he wants success. Neville might be afforded more time to implement his ideas than his predecessor but he will have to deliver results.

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