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News / Sports / Soccer

Timbers name Phil Neville as next head coach

Timbers Army Supporters group disappointed with selection

By Columbian news services
Published: November 6, 2023, 4:16pm

PORTLAND — The Portland Timbers named Phil Neville as the team’s fourth head coach as a Major League Soccer franchise on Monday.

The native of Bury, England, will be formally introduced on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Phil Neville as the new head coach of the Portland Timbers, and we look forward to making Phil and his family feel at home in Portland,” general manager Ned Grabavoy said in a statement issued by the team.

“Phil’s character makes him the right person to lead this team forward as we continue to reshape the group with a goal of returning to sustained success. His leadership qualities, diverse experience as a coach, and ambition to evolve made him a terrific fit here with us in Portland.”

Portland’s decision to hire Neville was controversial, and the Timbers Army Supporters group issued a statement over the weekend asking the team to reconsider after word of his appointment leaked.

The group cited some of Neville’s past statements about women on social media a decade ago. Neville has since apologized for the posts.

“We are deeply disappointed that the club has reportedly settled on a finalist for head coach who has a history of sexist public statements that run counter to our ethos as a club, city and supporters’ group, and who also lacks a proven track record as a manager,” the statement said.

Neville, 46, joins the club with six years of head coaching experience at the senior level between his time in MLS and on the international stage, following a 19-year career as a distinguished player in England’s Premier League and England Men’s National Team.

Neville recently formed part of the Canadian Men’s National Team technical staff as an assistant coach during the team’s participation in the 2023 CONCACAF Nations League Final and the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“I am massively excited about the challenge ahead, and from the very first moment I met the staff I knew it was the right opportunity for me, the right club for me and the right city for me,” Neville said in a statement.

“The fans are the most important part of this football club with their intensity and support, and I think this journey is going to be something special. I have great memories visiting Portland, which reminds me of Manchester, my hometown, and I can’t wait for my family to get to know this beautiful city.”

Neville was appointed as head coach of Inter Miami CF ahead of the club’s second MLS season in 2021, leading them through two-plus MLS campaigns until his departure midway through 2023.

In 2022, Neville and Miami finished sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with a mark of 14-14-6, earning a postseason berth and the team’s best finish to date.

Prior to coaching in MLS, Neville was selected as the England Women’s National Team head coach in January of 2018. England won the 2019 SheBelieves Cup and was undefeated in the 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifying before placing fourth in the tournament.

Neville had also was an assistant coach at Valencia (2015-16), Manchester United (2013-14) and England’s U21 Men’s National Team (2012-13).

As a player, Neville enjoyed a stellar 19-year career as a defender at Manchester United and Everton.

Neville made his professional debut with Manchester United in 1995. He recorded 381 appearances in all competitions, helping the team win six Premier League championships, three FA Cups and one UEFA Champions League title.

Neville and Manchester United won the treble (Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League) in the 1998-99 season.

Neville joined Everton in 2005 and went on to make 303 appearances in all competitions, captaining the team through eight seasons.

Internationally, Neville made 59 appearances for the England Men’s National Team. He made five appearances in two different UEFA Euro tournaments (2000, 2004) and four appearances in World Cup qualifiers (1998, 2001). Neville made his senior international debut against China on May 23, 1996. He also featured in England’s U-16, U-18, and U-21 teams.