Beckham says Neville hired as coach on merit, not friendship

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FILE - David Beckham, Inter Miami CF co-owner, is interviewed during the Major League Soccer 25th Season kickoff event in New York, in this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, file photo. David Beckham bristled when asked whether Phil Nevilles was hired as Inter Miami coach because theyre buddies. Of course, people are always going to turn around and say, oh, its because hes your friend. Its nothing to do with him being my friend, Beckham said Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, FIler)

David Beckham bristled when asked whether Phil Neville’s was hired as Inter Miami coach because they’re buddies.

“Of course, people are always going to turn around and say, oh, it’s because he’s your friend. It’s nothing to do with him being my friend,” Beckham said Friday. “Our ownership group don’t just employ our friends. We employ the best people, whether it’s on the field, off the field, in our backroom staff, the staff that we have work in our training facility, at the stadium.

"We are running a serious soccer club here. And I think at the end of the day, we hire people that we feel are best suited for the job.”

Beckham, a former England captain, was given ownership of a future Major League Soccer team at a discount as part of his transfer to the LA Galaxy for the 2007 season. Miami started play last year and had seven wins, 13 losses and three draws, finishing 10th among 14 teams in the Eastern Conference under coach Diego Alonso. Miami fired Alonso following a 3-0 playoff loss to Nashville.

Neville played with Beckham on Manchester United from 1994-03 and England’s national team from 1996-07, and they are part owners of fourth-tier Salford City in England. Neville coached England’s women’s team from 2018 through this month — the Lionesses lost to the U.S. in a 2019 World Cup semifinal.

“My loyalty to Phil has always been there because as a player, I relied on him to keep making those runs by the side of me,” Beckham said. “I never gave him the ball because I thought I was better crosser of the ball than he was, so he never got those balls. But I knew that he would keep on making those runs because he knew that was what was best for the team.

"And he will make those decisions as a coach, not just of our club, but a coach of our academy system, a coach of our USL team, and as a leader. that’s why he’s in this position. Nothing to do with the relationship that we have, the friendship that we have, the loyalty that we have to each other.”

Beckham, Miami’s director of soccer operations, spoke at a news conference with Jorge Mas, Miami’s managing owner.