Phil Neville thought Inter Miami CF’s 2-0 loss to CF Montréal on May 12 was going to be a “wake-up call” for his team. And after a bounce-back win over FC Cincinnati last Sunday, Neville warned about complacency ahead of a match against a Chicago Fire FC squad that were bottom of the Eastern Conference at kickoff Saturday.
The 1-0 loss to the Fire at Soldier Field left Neville scratching his head and feeling “really disappointed.”
“I thought from the very first whistle they were sharper than us to every ball and in a football game, what I said to the team is, we all want to play beautiful football, we all want to get the ball down and play through the phases and create beautiful goals,” Neville said after the match. “But in football, you’ve got to win the battle first, you’ve got to stay with runners, you’ve got to win tackles, win headers, you’ve got to be disciplined, you’ve got to defend well and if you don’t do that, you don’t win games of football.”
Neville made a point to praise the play of goalkeeper John McCarthy, who made five saves. “If it wasn’t for John, we’d have probably lost by two, maybe three goals,” he said. And he called the play of substitutes Christian Makoun and Julian Carranza “brilliant.”
But that’s where the compliments ended.
“Apart from them three, I don’t think any of us can look in the mirror and say we did our job right, myself included, my staff, the players,” Neville said.
Neville said the Miami players in the dressing room shared his sentiment about being disappointed.
Defender Ryan Shawcross doubled down in the post-match availability.
“Football’s a very simple game and if you go out there with a better attitude than your opponent, with more desire, more hard work, then usually you go out on top,” he said. “Today, I thought they had that in abundance and we really struggled.”
Neville had a similar message about not being able to “just turn up” and get a win.
“Nobody comes and knocks at your door and just gives you three points, nobody comes and knocks at your door and gives you success. Nobody comes and knocks at your door and just hands it to you on a plate,” Neville said. “You have to go out there and earn the right. We didn’t and they did and that’s why they won the game.”