“We have a clean slate to build something bigger and better than anything else in America,” said Phil Neville during his unveiling at Inter Miami in February.
“Not just America, but even world famous,” he added.
How foolish do those bold proclamations look now. Try to be the worst team in America. Try to lose your last six games with a total score of 13-1. Try to have the highest wage bill in the league and win only two out of 12 matches.
So much for David Beckham’s ambitious American dream. He has put $40 million of his own money into it and yet this is the nightmare he must have feared.
David Beckham’s Inter Miami property is quickly turning into a nightmare as they lose more games
Phil Neville (left) is under a lot of pressure as he has only won two of his 12 games and players like Gonzalo Higuain (right) must show some serious improvement when they are no longer at the bottom
Players were booed back to the locker room after Wednesday night’s humiliating 5-0 loss to New England Revolution.
It is the worst defeat in the club’s albeit short history and this was not a bad luck story, this was a 4-0 deficit at half time with what many believe to be their strongest side available. This was, as debuting goalkeeper Nick Marsden put it afterwards, a complete disaster.
The word nepotism was widely circulated when Neville, a former team-mate of David Beckham at Manchester United and co-owner of Salford City, was chosen to succeed Diego Alonso.
Neville’s enchantment of England Women was ultimately disappointing. He had one SheBelieves Cup to show in four years. Those who follow the Lionesses weren’t too sad to see him go.
And then the call came from Miami, come to South Beach and see what you think of the place. Florida media members and fans of the franchise expansion team were disappointed. It seems that their suspicion was correct after all.
INTER MIAMI’S WIDE DOZEN
2-3 LA Galaxy – April 18
2-1 Philadelphia – April 25
0-0 Nashville – May 2
1-1 Atlanta – May 9
0-2 Montreal – May 13
3-2 Cincinnati May 16
0-1 Chicago Fire – May 22
0-3 DC United – May 30
0-1 DC United – June 20
1-2 Orlando – June 26
0-1 Montreal – July 4
0-5 New England – July 22
Phil Neville didn’t get the job at Inter Miami. Phil Neville has earned the job,” said Jorge Mas, the club’s director.
“The fact that he is David’s friend is a fact and no one walks away from it. We actually embrace it.’
What exactly had he done to deserve it? Many felt he fell short of expectations with a talented Lionesses team and it wasn’t like he could lean on a wealth of experience in MLS.
“The biggest challenge for me as a coach is to come here and prove to people that the foreign coaches can come here and be successful,” Neville added on arrival.
Instead of Neville serving up slices of humble pie, it was more of the “I told you” crowd that a dozen games found their voices in what is fast becoming the season of hell.
The question is how did it come to this? How did it come to a series of six losses where the total score Everyone else is 13-1 Inter Miami.
Beckham didn’t join MLS to be the laughing stock, that’s for sure.
In their inaugural season, Inter Miami finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, out of 12 teams. It was fine, no more than that, because they found their feet under Alves.
But Beckham, along with co-owners Marcelo Claure, Jorge Mas, Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son, wanted to kick to a new level and thus get more money, more players, more goals and more wins. Funny how plans don’t always coincide.
In the opening game of Neville in charge, they threw a 2-1 lead at home to lose 3-2 to LA Galaxy.
A three-game undefeated run followed – a win over Philadelphia Union and a draw against Nashville and Atalanta United. It was a solid, if unspectacular, start.
New England Revolution is the best team in the league, but it was still an embarrassing night
Inter Miami fans are getting tired of Neville’s tactics and some are already calling for change
DISCOVER ALL ABOUT INTER MIAMIA
First and last name: Miami International Soccer Club
League: MLS (Major League Soccer)
Nickname: The herons
head coach: Phil Neville
President: David Beckham
Stadium: DRV PNK Stadium
first match: March 1, 2020
Owners: David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son
Captain Gonzalo Higuain, Juventus’ big lender in 2020 who makes £4.2million a year, saved them from a late win against Cincinnati, but if the lug nuts weren’t out, they were certainly loose.
What followed Higuain’s late-night show at TQL Stadium are six straight defeats. One goal in 540 minutes. Thirteen goals against.
New England Revolution is the shining light in MLS, a model to behold and a set-up to be replicated. But they were not at their strongest with international commitments at play and so it was just unacceptable to suffer a franchise worst defeat.
In his response, Neville was scathing for his players, accepting that he’s been in the game long enough to know the “consequences” are landing at his door.
“I didn’t expect it,” he told reporters. “The players have to take a good look at themselves, and so do I.
“We win, we lose together. You will never blame me (anyone else). I will take full responsibility for that and ultimately my job is to make this team better and at the moment they are not. That’s on my shoulders.
“If we get a disappointment, we have to make sure we can recover. That’s what football is all about: having guts, having courage, not letting your teammates down on the pitch.
“We don’t do that and we haven’t done that in the last six games. It’s something we need to correct as soon as possible.’
And what about good friend Beckham? Is an awkward phone call or difficult WhatsApp message telling him he’s being fired on the horizon?
“I feel their full support — I always have,” Neville said of Miami’s owners. “They don’t have to tell me about their concerns, because I have the same concerns.
“I’ve been in football long enough and I know the consequences, that’s not a problem for me.
“We are doing everything we can, we just need better performance on the pitch.
Beckham (right) may have to judge his good friend Neville very harshly
“I have a great responsibility and am responsible for everything I do. We’re on the run right now and that’s putting pressure on me.’
Ironically, in an effort to stop the rot and excite his players, Neville swore it’s “now or never” to kick off their season with ambition pouring out of the boardroom like a Disney World log gutter.
“We need to accelerate,” Neville said. Think you went backwards by accident, Phil.
“Look in the mirror and ask, ‘What are you doing for the team?’ Nothing will stop me from trying to be a success at this football club,” he added after New England’s 5-0 defeat.
“You can lose games in football, but the way we lost tonight was… we’ve said the word unacceptable in the past – it feels worse than that.
“It’s a matter of playing for your pride, for the badge, for your supporters – I can only apologize for what they saw tonight.
Shame has also come off the pitch after the deal with Blaise Matuidi led to a record fine
“I feel more for them than for myself or the players, because they deserve better.”
Being ashamed on the field is one thing, but they are also ashamed of it.
Take breaking the MLS salary cap rules, which leads to a record fine for every team in the division.
MLS has a salary cap of $9.225 million for each team’s squad. There is an exception under ‘The Designated Player Rule’, also known ironically as the ‘Beckham Rule’, which allows teams to sign up up to three players who fall outside the team’s salary cap.
Inter Miami named Gonzalo Higuain, Matias Pellegrini and Rodolfo Pizarro as the three who crossed the limit.
But Matuidi signed a marketing deal that added to his total compensation that went above the salary cap, leaving Inter Miami out of the rules.
A dozen games in the season and Beckham owns the worst soccer team in America
Such agreements are not uncommon, but MLS rules state that they must be reported to and approved by the league to ensure salary budget compliance, which Inter Miami has not done. A $2 million fine was more than a slap on the wrist.
Monday night it’s Philadelphia Union again, one of the teams that Inter Miami has beaten this season.
With a score of 16 percent, Neville’s win rate should sound the alarm so far.
If he cracks the numbers, he knows it’s not right. He has said it once and will have to say it again: it is now or never.