By Elliot Sangara.
For those who think MLS fans aren’t passionate, the angry chants and furious boos directed at Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville on Wednesday night prove otherwise.
Angry that their team is sitting at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference standings, Inter Miami fans decided they’ve had enough. Not only did they unveil banners calling for Neville to be fired, but they also booed his son Harvey, a current player on the Inter Miami team.
Phil Neville personally appealed to the fans to direct their discontent solely towards him. Inter Miami fans have made it clear that they think he is an ineffective coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
A day later, Neville was relieved of his duties as Inter Miami head coach, as reported by Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald.
BREAKING NEWS: Inter Miami coach Phil Neville let go this afternoon. Confirmed by multiple club sources. Announcement expected soon. Full story to come. @HeraldSports @MiamiHerald @InterMiamiCF #InterMiamiCF #MLS
— Michelle Kaufman (@kaufsports) June 1, 2023
Based on his CV, Neville seems like he would be the ideal manager. He was a former Manchester United player who won the Premier League, represented his country in major tournaments, and captained Everton Football Club.
However, his abilities as a coach have always been questioned. He was considered an odd choice by many when he was named manager of the England Women’s team in 2018. He didn’t have strong credentials to be a first-team manager other than a few England U21 matches and a short stint as a caretaker boss of Salford City — a club in which he and his brother Gary are heavily invested.
Upon his appointment as the England women’s manager, questions arose as to why numerous experienced female managers who were eligible for the position were overlooked. As a result, Neville found himself thrust into the spotlight from the moment he took charge.
The fairness of such scrutiny may be a topic of debate, but what cannot be disputed is that the women’s team failed to secure any significant titles during Neville’s tenure, whereas they swiftly clinched a World Cup victory shortly after his departure.
Toward the end of his time as England manager, he was under pressure to resign from the role due to poor results and questionable performances. He left the England job and became the manager at Inter Miami, a club partially owned by his good friend and former teammate, David Beckham.
Unfortunately for Neville, his time at Miami hasn’t done much to further his reputation. They finished third from the bottom of the Eastern Conference in his first season.
Despite acquiring European football stars such as Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Miami endured a woeful season, leaving fans with a sense of unease. Some felt it was a clear sign that Neville wasn’t the right man to lead the club.
While the following season showed marginal improvement, it was still far from satisfactory. The team barely scraped through to the playoffs and suffered a resounding 3-0 defeat at the hands of New York City FC, once again highlighting their shortcomings on the field as well as off it.
Inter Miami continues to languish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, having secured only two victories in their last 13 matches.
Their points tally — a paltry 15 from as many games — paints a grim picture. For Neville, the recent encounter with the New York Red Bulls only added to his woes.
Despite the Red Bulls being reduced to ten men with Cameron Harper’s dismissal in added time, Miami failed to find an equalizer.
Always bullish, Neville defended the quality of his team and claimed that he was frustrated because Miami held significant possession but lacked the necessary cutting edge in the final third.
It was to be the final straw, not just for the fans, but for the club, too. Inter Miami assistant coach Javier Morales will assume the role of interim head coach, as the passionate fans get the change they desired.