Soccer

Phil Neville named new Portland Timbers head coach

Phil Neville has been appointed as head coach of Portland Timbers (John Walton/PA)
Phil Neville has been appointed as head coach of Portland Timbers (John Walton/PA) Phil Neville has been appointed as head coach of Portland Timbers (John Walton/PA)

Phil Neville has been confirmed as the new head coach of Portland Timbers ahead of the 2024 MLS season.

The 46-year-old said he was relishing the prospect of returning to the competition, five months after his departure from Inter Miami.

Neville said: “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.

“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.”

Neville will have to work hard to win over some sections of Portland’s fanbase, who had protested his prospective appointment.

The Timber Army cited Neville’s average coaching record and historic social media comments about the role of women, for which Neville subsequently apologised.

Neville left his role as England women’s head coach in 2021 and linked up with former team-mate David Beckham at Inter Miami, leading the club into the play-offs.

But he was dismissed after a dismal start to the 2023 campaign, prior to the club’s signing of Lionel Messi which significantly improved their fortunes.

Portland general manager Ned Grabavoy said: “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.

“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.”