The bar has been risen for Inter Miami CF.
After an expansion season that included an Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoff berth and significant sporting department upheaval with the departures of coach Diego Alonso and sporting director Paul McDonough, Inter Miami have a different look in Year Two with the arrival of Chris Henderson and Phil Neville and a more hands-on approach by co-owner David Beckham.
And with that comes heightened expectations from ownership.
“We want to be feared and respected both, with a great product on the field and respected in the way we go about it and do it,” Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas said at a press conference Saturday. “We aspire to be a top-three team in the Eastern Conference. We want to host a home playoff game, we want to make a run for an MLS Cup. With the type of things we’re doing on the roster, I think those are very achievable and attainable goals for this year.”
Henderson, who was hired as sporting director, and Neville, a former teammate of Beckham’s on the legendary Manchester United teams of 1990s and new head coach, have changed the atmosphere at the club, according to Beckham.
“This building has changed overnight since Phil and Chris came in,” Beckham said. “There’s a unity there that wasn’t there. That was important. People would say, ‘What’s your system’? What are you playing? 4-4-2?’ The important part is not that. It’s the details. How fit are the players? What are they doing on and off the pitch? Phil has made a huge difference so far with that. There’s a real plan. We can see that with the training the players have done so far. And there is no disconnect between the U13s, the U17s, our USL team and our first team. There is a synergy.”
Neville's only previous managerial experience was with the England women’s national team, but he's been following MLS since Beckham’s ballyhooed arrived as an LA Galaxy player in 2007. While he’s not intimately familiar with the league's roster-building complexities, Neville made sure he’s got a support support from that standpoint.
“I’ve surrounded myself with experienced people who have been in MLS for a long time,” Neville said. “I’m not the type of coach that takes four or five staff with him everywhere he goes. I like to go to a place and immerse myself in the place with specialists in that area. I am only bringing two people and surrounding myself with MLS experience, people who understand the travel, challenges, the rules. With the right people around me that’s where we will gel.”