FROM STEVE BRENNER IN MIAMI
David Beckham stressed on Friday that his close friendship with Phil Neville wasn’t behind the former England women’s coach’s arrival as Inter Miami boss.
Neville and Beckham played together for Manchester United and England with the pair remaining close having both risen through the ranks at Old Trafford along with the likes of brother Gary, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Yet despite their relationship and how the appointment may be perceived, Beckham, who has been able to take a far more hands-on role in Miami since arriving in South Florida at Christmas, insists Neville is the perfect choice for his Major League Soccer franchise.
Neville, who has never held a head coach role in the men’s game after three years working for England’s women, snubbed the chance to lead Great Britain’s women’s team at the Tokyo Olympics and heads to Miami on a two-year deal.
He will work alongside highly-rated former Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson who was also unveiled during a news conference on Friday.
Beckham is adamant Neville is the perfect fit for Inter Miami who endured a difficult inaugural MLS campaign, winning just seven games before losing in the first round of the play-offs to fellow newcomers Nashville.
“People speak about Phil’s (lack of) experience, he has had a few experiences in the men’s game and more recently with the England women’s national team but his experience comes from being a player,” Beckham told AFP.
“He has worked with some of the best managers and players in the world, as well as being around some of the best academy systems within the Premier League so that experience is huge.
“We wouldn’t have appointed him if we weren’t confident in his capabilities.
“This has nothing to do with friendship. It’s about him being the right man for the job.”
England’s Football Association believed Neville, 44, was ready to lead Britain in Tokyo even though his three-year reign, which saw the Lionesses reach the World Cup semi-final in 2019, was coming to an end with former Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman set to take charge later this year.
Yet once Miami sacked Inter coach Diego Alonso following a turgid campaign earlier this month, Neville had no hesitation about moving on.
“I had a fantastic job and worked with some fantastic people,” Neville said.
“The players were some of the best I have worked with and I was sad to say goodbye to them a couple of weeks ago.
“But ultimately, in life you only get one opportunity and this was my big one that I had to grasp.”