MIAMI – David Beckham, co-owner of Inter Miami, said on Friday that the hiring of his friend Phil Neville as coach would help the team “to learn and evolve” heading into its second season in Major League Soccer.
The former England captain and his partner, Miami businessman Jorge Mas, held a virtual press conference to introduce Neville and new sporting director Chris Henderson.
The co-owners insisted that the choice of Neville, Beckham’s former Manchester United and England teammate, was not based on the decades-long friendship between the two men.
“Phil Neville was not handed the Inter Miami job – Phil Neville earned the job,” Mas said. “There was a very thorough interview process with multiple candidates. Phil’s the right man for the job at this time.”
“The fact he’s David’s friend is a reality. We embrace that, but he wasn’t given or handed the job because he’s friends with or solely because of his relationship with David Beckham,” Mas said of the new coach.
Neville, who comes to Miami after more than two years as coach of England’s national women’s team, replaces Diego Alonso, fired at the end of Inter’s inaugural season.
“Of course, people are always going to turn around and say, oh, it’s because he’s your friend. It’s nothing to do with him being my friend,” Beckham said. “We are running a serious soccer club here. And I think at the end of the day, we hire people that we feel are best suited for the job.”
Beckham, who was promised a discount on a future MLS franchise when he joined the LA Galaxy in 2007 from Real Madrid, returned to Miami over the Christmas holidays after spending more than nine months in the United Kingdom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So the retired superstar missed Inter’s first season, which ended with a 3-0 playoff loss to Nashville. The team finished 10th in the 14-team Eastern Conference of the MLS.
“Last year was very frustrating, watching games from my house at the UK at 1 am and 2 am. I’ve been here for the last three weeks and have been able to be around the club and the staff to see exactly what we need to do moving forward, which is why we made the changes we made,” Beckham said.
“My priority was always to be back here and be around the facility, players and do what I’ve always dreamt of doing, which was being a very hands-on owner,” he added.
Prior to holding the top job with the England women’s team, Neville was an assistant coach at LaLiga side Valencia in 2015-16 during his brother Gary’s tenure as head coach.