Friendship not behind Neville's role: Beckham

Phil Neville (left) and David Beckham, pictured with Singaporean businessman Peter Lim, are reunited at MLS team Inter Miami. PHOTO: REUTERS
Phil Neville (left) and David Beckham, pictured with Singaporean businessman Peter Lim, are reunited at MLS team Inter Miami. PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI • David Beckham stressed on Friday that his close friendship with Phil Neville was not 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 after both rose through the ranks at Old Trafford along with Phil's brother Gary, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

Yet, despite their relationship and how the appointment may be perceived, Beckham insists Neville is the perfect choice for his Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.

Despite qualifying for the MLS play-offs in their debut campaign last year, the 45-year-old former England captain said he was not happy with the culture within the club he co-owns with Jorge Mas.

He started the new season by sacking team manager Diego Alonso and bringing in his former teammate.

Neville, who has never held a head coach role in the men's game after three years working with England's women, snubbed the chance to lead the British women's team at the delayed Tokyo Olympics and heads to Miami on a two-year deal.

"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 said.

"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.

"One of the reasons I thought Phil would be a great fit for this club was the huge potential to work with our academy kids right through to the first team.

"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."

Neville also acknowledged their long friendship and expected to face some tough conversations during the season, but remained confident their bond would withstand the challenge.

He added: "The reality is David is my friend and about two weeks ago he became my boss.

"Yes, our families have been friends but I think when it gets down to work, we're here to win, we're here to be successful, we're here to build something great.

"Ultimately, in life you only get one opportunity and this was my big one that I had to grasp."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2021, with the headline 'Friendship not behind Neville's role: Beckham'. Subscribe