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Inter Miami’s Barcelona loss is the latest low in their short history

Phil Neville probably thought a mid-season friendly against Barcelona would offer Inter Miami some reprieve from an MLS campaign teetering on a fine line between success and failure.

Instead, an expected beating from Xavi’s much superior side only highlighted the lack of quality he possesses and the work David Beckham and his co-owners have yet to do to get them where they want to be.

The ultimate success the club’s ownership group craves – MLS dominance – is still a long way off. But as it stands, there is at least a chance to make it to the playoffs at the end of the season.

Phil Neville watched as his Inter Miami side was thrashed 6-0 by Barcelona in a friendly match

Phil Neville watched as his Inter Miami side was thrashed 6-0 by Barcelona in a friendly match

David Beckham's MLS Franchise Is Fighting To Make The Playoffs This Season

David Beckham’s MLS Franchise Is Fighting To Make The Playoffs This Season

Inter Miami will continue to play home games at a temporary facility near Fort Lauderdale

Inter Miami will continue to play home games at a temporary facility near Fort Lauderdale

DISCOVER ALL ABOUT INTER MIAMIA

First and last name: Club Internacional de Futbol Miami

League: MLS (Major League Soccer)

Nickname: The herons

head coach: Phil Neville

President: David Beckham

Stadium: DRV PNK Stadium

Capacity: 18,000

first match: March 1, 2020

Owners: David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son

That would be an improvement from last season, when Inter Miami completely missed the postseason. But they have seven wins from 20 games this year in contention, even if it also shows how far off the pace they are.

Neville had described their friendly with Barcelona – the five-time Champions League winners – as Inter Miami’s ‘biggest game’ and it was an opportunity to give the struggling franchise a much-needed profile boost on the global stage.

With a packed house of 19,113 in attendance to see true European quality, it’s fair to say the class gap was huge. Barcelona’s new $66.3 million signing, Raphinha, sparkled with a goal and two assists as the Spanish giants went on to a 6-0 win.

While fellow new kid Robert Lewandowski watched from the stands, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ansu Fati, Gavi, Memphis Depay and Ousmane Dembele also hit the back of the net on another punishing night in Inter Miami history.

“It was a brilliant opportunity to play, you could feel the buzz in the air, the supporters,” said a surprisingly cheerful Neville afterwards.

“We have now experienced what a sold out DRV PNK feels like and I think the game will always be something for us to enjoy.

“I thought it was a brilliant learning experience for everyone involved. I thought we should dig in, we should fight.”

But can you really enjoy a 6-0 beating, Phil? Probably not. Add to that a rather routine 2-0 defeat to reigning MLS champions New York City on Saturday, and this season looks set to spiral out of control again under the leadership of Beckham and his co-owners.

Inter Miami overhauled their off-season roster and removed some big earners from the club

Inter Miami overhauled their off-season roster and removed some big earners from the club

On the upside, Inter Miami is three points behind Cincinnati – which holds the final playoff spot in the MLS’ Eastern Conference – with a game in hand.

They have had some impressive wins this season, most notably back-to-back home wins over the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers in May.

But last week’s win over Charlotte was their first in four games and just 22 goals in 20 league games shows they aren’t the most exciting to watch.

There was little to get excited about Beckham’s ambitious American dream. He put $40 million of his own money into the club and has seen little return to date.

When Neville took over in January 2021, he insisted the franchise had “a blank slate to build something bigger and better than anything else in America.”

“Not just America, but even world famous,” he added.

How foolish do those bold proclamations look now. Inter Miami had the highest wage bill in the league last season and did not even make the playoffs.

Neville has yet to prove that he is the man capable of delivering the success Beckham and his property want

Neville has yet to prove that he is the man capable of delivering the success Beckham and his property want

They made significant cuts during the off-season and gave Neville’s squad a massive transformation with big earners like Blaise Matuidi, Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini all being loaned out or moving on.

However, there has been little reward for changing strategy, with a playoff spot far from guaranteed in the second year of Neville’s time in the lead.

The word nepotism was widely circulated when Neville, a former Beckham team-mate for both Manchester United and England 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 there was a call from Miami. Florida media members and fans of the franchise expansion team were disappointed. It seems that their suspicion was correct after all.

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.

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.

Captain Gonzalo Higuain Makes $5 Million A Year But Has Only Scored 17 Goals In 56 Appearances

Captain Gonzalo Higuain Makes $5 Million A Year But Has Only Scored 17 Goals In 56 Appearances

But Beckham, along with co-owners Marcelo Claure, Jorge Mas, Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son, wanted to kick to a new level and thus more money, more players, more goals and more wins. Funny how plans don’t always coincide.

Captain Gonzalo Higuain, the big-money signing of Juventus in 2020 who earns £4.2million a year, has scored 17 goals in 56 appearances for the club. Hardly with the release.

The club’s unabashed pursuit of success led to a violation of the MLS salary limits in May 2021, leading 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 designated Higuain, Pellegrini and Pizarro as the three who would exceed 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.

Perhaps that has been the reason for the massive staff turnover, which has seen their payrolls plummet over the past 12 months.

It remains to be seen how much time Beckham and Co Neville will give to make them a force

It remains to be seen how much time Beckham and Co Neville will give to make them a force

Former Premier League pair Kieran Gibbs and DeAndre Yedlin have both switched for free for the past 12 months, while MLS veteran Alejandro Pozuelo was a big name last month. It is hoped that his experience can secure a place in the play-offs in the coming weeks.

When cries of favoritism were heard when Neville got the manager’s job, he had to defend his decision to bring in son Harvey and Romeo Beckham in the game against Barcelona.

Harvey, 20, was introduced at half time, while Beckham Jnr was brought in after 86 minutes. Neville insisted they “earned the right” to play. Beckham is not yet playing in the MLS, while Neville made his league debut in May.

Amid the mediocrity on the pitch, Beckham and the club’s ownership group finally got a boost in their efforts to build a new stadium in April, after the process was plagued with problems.

For now, Inter Miami will continue to play their home games, not in the state-of-the-art downtown stadium they had planned, but in a temporary facility outside Fort Lauderdale.

But the club was finally given the green light to proceed with construction of a 25,000-seat stadium that will be part of the Miami Freedom Park project, a 58-acre green space and a tech hub with shops and restaurants.

The club was finally given the green light to proceed with their beautiful new 25,000 seat stadium

The club was finally given the green light to proceed with their beautiful new 25,000 seat stadium

Inter Miami are looking to launch in 2025 and Beckham hopes his team are in a better position on the pitch than they are now.

In fact, at the start of this season, Beckham issued a pretty clear warning that if the owners don’t start seeing results soon, they won’t hesitate to change things up.

“What have we learned in the past two years?” he said before the season started.

‘Have a little patience, which I don’t have much of, but as an owner and someone with high expectations, you have to have that too.

‘We have to be patient, but can we have that patience much longer?

“Of course not because we are winners and have expectations.”

Neville is just over half way through the regular season schedule with 13 games left. If Inter Miami can’t start putting together a form that will propel them to the playoffs, there could be change on the horizon.

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