After a first season marked by the Covid-19, Inter Miami hoped to get off on the right foot in 2021. Despite a new coach and stars, such as Blaise Matuidi or Gonzalo Higuain, the MLS franchise, owned by David Beckham, is in the dark red from the Eastern Conference. Nothing is going well under the Florida sun.
On January 7, 2021, the British press revealed for the first time that Inter Miami, a Major League Soccer franchise led by David Beckham, wanted to make Phil Neville their next coach. Contact was easily established between the two former Manchester United players and ten days later Gary’s brother and England women’s coach for three years was appointed to the Florida bench. With the MLS season due to start on April 18, the England coach had three months to put his project into action. And an improvement was expected.
It must be said that the previous season, the first of the club’s young history in MLS, was all a draft. Led by Uruguayan technician Diego Alonso, the Herons had suffered two defeats in the first two days of the championship, before being stopped in their quest for success by the coronavirus epidemic. On the resumption, Miami was no better. During the MLS revival tournament held behind closed doors in Orlando (MLS is Back), the franchise had lost three times (first team eliminated), ending its very first year – truncated – on a record of 5 losses in so many meetings.
Recruits, a new coach, but it doesn’t take
In the offseason, Phil Neville is not the only one to have landed in Biscayne Bay. Level sizes, Blaise Matuidi (34) and Gonzalo Higuain (33), released by Juventus, posed as serious candidates. The Premier League has also been polled by David Beckham. Left-back Kieran Gibbs (ex-Arsenal and West Brom), 31, and center-back Ryan Shawcross (ex-Manchester United and Stoke city), 33, came to bring their experience. But this new season started as the last one had been concluded. Inter Miami have 2 wins, 2 draws and 8 losses after 12 league games.
Red Lantern of the Eastern Conference with 8 points, Miami is already relegated to 12 units of the play-offs. The franchise even remains on a series of 6 losses (1 goal scored, 13 conceded), culminating in a scathing 5-0 conceded on its lawn, against the leader, New England Revolution, Wednesday. That evening, moreover, Gonzalo Higuain, who is going through a delicate period despite 5 goals and 1 assist in 9 matches, suffered the wrath of the supporters. Left injured (and replaced by his brother, Federico), it was under the boos and insults from the spans of Drive Pink Stadium that he joined the locker room. Trend among Argentines exiled in the US.
Phil Neville blames his players
On the sidelines, Phil Neville manages to get England interested in MLS. Across the Channel, his case is closely scrutinized by the tabloids, always ready to jump at the slightest misstep. But he is not worried and says he is supported by his management. “I feel their full support – I have always felt it”Neville said. “They don’t need to tell me about their concerns because I have the same concerns. I’ve been in football for quite a long time and I know the consequences – that’s not a problem for me. ” The coach also tried to involve his players, he who is looking for a team spirit.
“I did not expect that. The players have to make a long and serious self-criticism, and so do I. Did they have better players than us (New England, note)? On paper, no, but it’s a team and that’s what we need to become. That’s all I ask – a team that will fight for each other, can look at each other in the locker room and trust each other. You can lose football matches, but the way we lost tonight was… we already used the word unacceptable – it was worse than that ”. Promising, is the Florida XXL project already on the decline?
A need for results to attract stars?
In an interview given to ESPN, last March, David Beckham evoked the biggest names linked to his franchise. “When we announced the project in Miami, there were always discussions about the players we were going to bring in, be it Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar. There have always been these rumors. I actually don’t think it’s hard for the players to decide, to be honest, because it’s a great place ”, he had confided. While co-owner Jorge Mas firmly believes in Messi’s coming, besides the three geniuses, Sergio Romero, Ivan Rakitic, Willian, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani were all recently named as potential Inter rookies.
It is well understood, if it is far from causing a sensation on the ground, Inter Miami enjoys an incomparable attractiveness. Miami, seaside resort light years away from Florent Pagny’s Châtelet-les-Halles. The results, mediocre since the launch of the club, seem for the moment to take a back seat. But in the city and around the stadium, on match nights, the grumbling is more and more insistent. Atlanta fans got the head of Gabriel Heinze. It remains to be seen how long Phil Neville can hold out. In a press conference, the coach dared a very premature “We have 23 matches, 23 finals”. Winner of the Youth FA Cup with Manchester United in 1992, will the Neville-Beckham duo withstand the storm?