From Jose Mourinho to Frank Lampard, soccer managers have long been given jobs that are based on ease and emotion rather than conscientious consideration. Why is David Beckham protesting the idea of Inter Miami continuing the tradition?
David Beckham appeared to have an unusually prickly demeanor at a press conference yesterday. The legendary midfielder asked questions about the new club he’s the figurehead for, Inter Miami, and named Phil Neville as the new coach.
Inter’s image is usually the hallmark of Beckham’s longstanding glory. This is why it was so strange to see the Beckham brand on the defensive as it must have felt to the co-owner himself.
“I’ve known him since I was 15 or 16 years old, as a little kid,” Beckham began briskly, as if knowing Neville for 30 years had answered the allegations of preference behind the decision.
“I knew what he was like as a player, I know what he is like as a person, I know what his work ethic is.
“Of course people will always turn around and say, ‘Oh, because he’s your friend.’ It has nothing to do with being my friend. Our group of owners doesn’t just employ friends. We employ the best people. “
For the uninitiated, Neville spent eleven years as a senior player at United and eight years at Everton before becoming the surprise incumbent England woman executive in 2018.
🗣️ “Phil thinks about football every minute of the day. That’s why he’s a manager and I’m not” @ GNev2 talks about Phil Neville’s passion for football management that led him to get the job at Inter Miami with David Beckham pic.twitter. com / irNAsKgID5
– Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 18, 2021
With arguments about his suitability to be at the top of English women’s football subsided – Neville had no previous number one experience – his record in the role was mixed at best by the high standards he often spoke of.
Neville took over the team that was third in the world rankings and failed to win 16 of his 35 responsible games. He lost 11, taking sixth place overall.
England showed a commendable performance when they went from head to toe in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in a 2-1 defeat to the conquering USA, but also won only one of their nine games against teams that were in the top five under Neville .
His sudden departure after Inter moved in could have possibly brought relief to Neville and the country’s FA: he had lost seven of his last eleven games and won only three times.
Suffice it to say, work ethic and human qualities matter little to Neville or Beckham if this form repeats itself in Miami.
Beckham’s passionate comments were heralded by a speech by Neville’s brother Gary, who in his prime was a teammate of his sibling and Beckham for United and England.
What an absolute load of old fools – jobs for the boys – Neville didn’t get anywhere near the job that he wasn’t Beckham’s buddy – Phil barely has a glittering résumé with a lot of success in management !!!
– Glen Davey (@UKCasp) January 22, 2021
David Beckham says Phil Neville was hired because he was the best man for his friend’s job. When asked how many other candidates there were, he answered “none”. What tosh.Phil will be back in the UK before Sarina Wiegman takes over his old job 🤣🤣🤣
– Kris 😎⚽️⚾️🏈🏏🏀🏆 (@bajankris) January 23, 2021
Speaking on live television in the UK, a mild mention of the half-witted suggestion that Neville’s new post was a case of “Jobs for the Boys” was all Gary needed to get up about the hours he’d been watching cursing one’s relatively new profession, as if an obsessive desire to gain an advantage are not taken for granted by any coach.
As counterintuitive as it would no doubt seem to them, would it actually put less pressure on Neville – and cause less groans from fans who have even the most rudimentary knowledge of the flawed realities of how football hierarchies work – would have kept his brother and Beckham relatively calm.
Filling vacancies in football has never been a meritocracy, and the soundbite loved by the boardroom for appointing the best candidate for the job is as tired as the delusion that managers can expect patience without positive results.
Jorge Mas on Inter Miami hires Phil Neville: “I’ll say it more directly than David: Phil Neville wasn’t given the Inter Miami job. He deserved the job. There was a very thorough interview process … as you can imagine, The manager of Inter Miami is an attractive position. “
– Tom Bogert (@tombogert) January 22, 2021
😂 Anyone who’s watched the lionesses over the past two years knows that this can’t possibly be true!
– Fiona Kelly (@ fjkelly666) January 23, 2021
Examples of convenience marriages are innumerable: at the richest club in the world, Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s only experience outside of Norway was a brief and unsuccessful stint in Cardiff before it was introduced as an available club in Legend – and it is even muttered that he may not have the qualifications required to remain in charge of bosses under new football club requirements after the UK leaves the EU.
In the Netherlands, Frank de Boer was sacked at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace before failing at Atlanta United.
This made him the ideal candidate to take on the national team, according to Dutch bigwigs, and he rewarded their faith by becoming the first Dutch coach to not win any of his first four games at the top.
What club would look at Phil Neville’s track record and general behavior on the job in England and say, “THIS is our type, this is the best choice to lead our team.” He’s probably hired because he’s in the Brotherhood, but … I don’t see any overperformance on his part.
– Charles Boehm (@cboehm) May 28, 2020
Those two cautionary stories wouldn’t make Beckham a more pragmatic answer if he admits poor judgment.
Gareth Southgate, who was appointed England coach after Sam Allardyce’s scandalized mini-reign when the FA needed a quick fix, had previously led Middlesbrough to relegation to the English Premier League and last place in the European Championships with the English U21 players the group stage occupied.
Largely because of the results, Southgate, a contemporary of Neville, has become one of the most popular English managers in history.
It would be foolish to assume that Neville will not succeed, even though his work does not seem to work after the final position of the team of 19 out of a total of 26 teams last season, which won seven of their 23 games.
The only element Beckham can be forgiven for if he doesn’t mention it is his mate’s track record.
Inter Chief Ambassador is new to the recruiter’s role and accepting familiarity influenced him would be more credible than his tense protests.
The concept that football boardrooms are strictly subjective is a good ideal for projection. One day it might even be true. Meanwhile, Inter’s naivety makes them just ridiculous.
By Ben Miller
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