MLS

Neville 'feels full support' of Inter Miami co-owner Beckham despite six-game losing run

By Sports Desk July 22, 2021

Phil Neville accepts he is under increasing pressure amid a terrible run of form for Inter Miami but insists he feels the full support of the MLS club's owners.

Inter were thrashed 5-0 by New England Revolution on Wednesday to make it six defeats in a row, scoring just one goal and conceding 13 during that run of losses.

The Herons finished 10th in the Eastern Conference in their maiden campaign under Diego Alonso last time, but they have the worst record of all 27 MLS teams in 2021.

Former Manchester United defender Neville was named as Alonso's successor in January and has won two, drawn two and lost eight of his first 12 league games in charge.

On the back of his side's latest loss, Neville says he does not need the club's owners – who include former United team-mate David Beckham – to tell him an improvement is needed.

"I feel their full support – I always have done," he said of Miami's financial backers. "They don't need to tell me about their concerns because I have the same concerns.

"I've been in football long enough and I know the consequences – that's no problem to me. We're doing everything in our power, we just need better performances on the field.

"I've got great responsibility and I'm accountable for everything that I do. We're on a run at the moment that puts me under pressure."

Miami have the likes of former Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain and World Cup-winning midfielder Blaise Matuidi in their ranks, but they were 4-0 down before half-time against the Revs.

That performance and scoreline against the conference leaders left Neville questioning whether his players had done enough for the team.

"I wasn't expecting it. The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves, and so do I. We win and we lose together," he said.

"Ultimately it's my job to make this team better, and in this moment in time they are not. That's on my shoulders.

"When we suffer a disappointment, we need to make sure that we can recover. That's what football's all about – having courage, bravery, not letting your team-mates down.

"We're not doing that and it's something we've not done for the last six games. It's something we have to rectify ASAP.

"Did they have better players than us? On paper, no, but they're a team and that's what we must become. 

"That's all I'm asking for – a team that will fight for each other and look around the dressing room and trust each other.

"That's what I've asked them to do – look in the mirror and ask, 'What are you doing for the team?' Nothing will deter me from trying to be a success at this football club."

Neville guided England Women to their first SheBelieves Cup triumph in 2019 and to fourth place in that year's World Cup, but results between then and his departure had been poor.

Reflecting on a club-record defeat for Inter, who are also on a club-record run of losses, Neville added: "It's the lowest in terms of my feelings after a defeat that I've had since I came to this football club – and we've had some disappointments.

"You can lose games in football, but the manner in which we lost [against the Revs] was… we've said the word unacceptable in the past – it feels worse than that.

"It's a case of playing for your pride, for the badge, for your supporters – I can only apologise to them for what they saw. It's them that I feel for, more than myself or the players, because they deserve better."

Inter Miami return to action on Sunday with a home match against Philadelphia Union, before rounding off July with the visit of Montreal.

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    It seems Cristiano Ronaldo's second stint at Manchester United might be cut short.

    Ronaldo returned to United at the end of August 2021, but after a season back at Old Trafford, the 37-year-old apparently wants out.

    According to multiple reports, Ronaldo has informed the club that he wishes to leave should an acceptable offer be received.

    Ronaldo was United's top scorer last season, though it would be fair to say his comeback did not go entirely to plan, with the Red Devils finishing sixth and recording their worst Premier League points tally.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November and interim manager Ralf Rangnick hardly made a lasting impression.

    Erik ten Hag has now been tasked with the rebuild, but would doing that without Ronaldo be a negative, or a positive? Two of Stats Perform's writers have had their say.

    Ronaldo's want-away wish bad news for United - Patric Ridge

    Sure, United's season might not have gone according to plan, but without Ronaldo, it could have been a lot worse. United ultimately scraped into the Europa League despite a dismal end to the campaign, and the fact that they have continental club football of any description to look forward to in the coming season is, in large part, down to the 18 league goals Ronaldo scored.

    His record speaks for itself, and the task of replacing him is put into even more of a stark light when you compare Ronaldo's statistics to the rest of United's squad last term.

    His 24 goals across all competitions is 14 clear of second-best Bruno Fernandes (10). Indeed, only Ronaldo (27), Fernandes (23) and Paul Pogba (10) hit double figures for direct goal contributions.

    Can United really lose two of those players in one window and expect to be challenging for Champions League qualification next term, especially with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all looking to strengthen? Marcus Rashford looks like a player in need of a reset, and Anthony Martial is seemingly surplus to requirements.

    Ronaldo scored a goal every 132 minutes last season, recording a shot conversion rate of 16.9 per cent. With Ronaldo in the team, United won 17 of 38 games (44.7 per cent). That win rate dropped drastically to 27.3 per cent (3/11) without him.

    In this writer's opinion, Ronaldo leaving would leave Ten Hag with even more work to do, on top of what is already a hugely difficult task.

    Ronaldo departure would provide opportunity for reset - Ryan Benson

    Goals win football matches. Cristiano Ronaldo scores goals – we know this. But did he make United a better team in general? Few would claim he did.

    Granted, some might suggest that is a harsh way to judge him given he played in – and scored 18 league goals for – arguably the worst United team (at least in terms of seasonal statistics) in over 30 years, but who's to say only he could have netted that amount for this side? Don't forget, they did finish second in the 2020-21 campaign.

    Even before he returned to Old Trafford, there were plenty of critics warning fans United could potentially be worse off than before with Ronaldo because of how little he offers to the wider team.

    Yes, he scores goals, but what's stopping United signing a replacement who does that but also works hard off the ball and adds dynamism to the attack? Maybe that's easier said than done, but those players do literally exist.

    United are in a transitional stage, the middle of a rebuild. With that in mind, no one will be expecting them to mount anything close to a title challenge next season, Ronaldo or not.

    Therefore, they might as well allow Ten Hag to bring a striker he deems to be tailor-made for the way he wants to play, rather than shoe-horn into the side a Ronaldo who offers precious little outside of the box.

    Ronaldo is 37. United would've needed to replace him soon anyway, so at least this provides them with an earlier opportunity to sign, and start building around, someone much younger.

  • England looking to Bairstow again as Bumrah's India pummel hosts at Edgbaston England looking to Bairstow again as Bumrah's India pummel hosts at Edgbaston

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  • Ronaldo asks to leave Man Utd: Napoli, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern... MLS? CR7's transfer options Ronaldo asks to leave Man Utd: Napoli, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern... MLS? CR7's transfer options

    Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving Manchester United to continue playing in the Champions League.

    The Portuguese superstar has played in Europe's elite competition for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and stands as the highest-ever scorer in the tournament with 140 goals.

    However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side who are set for Europa League football – and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

    If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old and Stats Perform has assessed some of them.

    Napoli

    A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as potential suitors – they have a void in their team following the exit of Lorenzo Insigne.

    In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

    Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play Champions League football – although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

     

    Chelsea

    Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given they have allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5million on the Belgium forward.

    Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

    Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment they paid last year.

    Chelsea also have interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

    Sporting CP

    With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of their own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

    Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting have the Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club – though his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

    Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business – and it is a side that can definitely compete, having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-21 season.

     

    Bayern Munich

    Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing – and Bayern have been touted as potential suitors, though Paris Saint-Germain are not said to be interest (sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans).

    With Robert Lewandowski's future at the Allianz Arena continuing to be shrouded in speculation, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

    In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goalscoring void that would be left in the event of a departure.

    Real Madrid

    Another possible return destination... could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

    The Champions League winners are hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez? 

    Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to their frustration, and having Ronaldo in their side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

    MLS

    Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave but, if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards? 

    Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with there only being a handful of teams likely to be able to make a move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

    With the 2026 World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further – and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

    That move marked the start of a new era of soccer in the US and has evolved considerably since, though Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

    It has been reported that United do not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely? 

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