Phil Neville takes responsibility after Inter Miami’s latest ugly defeat

Phil Neville takes responsibility after Inter Miami’s latest ugly defeat

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Some fans booed at the top of their lungs. Others headed for the exit doors early. Several in the supporters’ section expressed their displeasure via an unflattering post-game chant.

All this was a reaction to the latest ugly showing from Inter Miami — one that head coach Phil Neville took responsibility for.

Inter Miami suffered its fourth defeat of the 2021 season on Saturday night, losing at Drv Pnk Stadium by a 3-0 mark to a D.C. United team that had been struggling as of late. The South Florida side fell into a two-goal hole inside the first 21 minutes of the match played in front of a record crowd, and never got back into it en route to suffering an ugly home loss that pushed the team into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

“Ultimately, the buck stops with me,” said Neville. “The buck stops with me in terms of that is my team out there and we play together and we win and lose together. Ultimately at this moment in time we are suffering and we are suffering a lot and we are frustrated with what has happened in the last three or four games.

“But ultimately now is not the time, eight or nine games into the season, to start pointing fingers at individuals. We have got to be better as a collective unit, we have got to make sure that we play better, and that is the way it has to be.”

Inter Miami, which has tasted defeat in three of its last four matches, knows it needs improvements across the board. While Neville mentioned individual mistakes at the back proving costly against D.C. United, both he and winger Lewis Morgan talked about having to do better as a collective.

The team may have tied its season-high in goals conceded on Saturday, a sign that the defense needs work, but also did not score for the fourth time in eight matches this year.

“We need to improve all facets of our game, to be honest, at the moment” said Morgan. “From back to front, we need to get better in all departments. We are working tirelessly to do that.”

The Herons made it clear they did not think that Major League Soccer’s final findings into the 2020 signing of Blaise Matuidi played a part in Saturday’s frustrating result. The league announced hefty sanctions for Inter Miami a day before the game vs. D.C. United for previously breaking roster rules, but the team said that development did not distract it from the task at hand.

It also did not discourage a franchise-high turnout from fans, who made the most of Drv Pnk Stadium operating at full capacity for the first time by filling it up with an announced sell-out crowd of 15,945. Inter Miami did not reward those observers with the first three home points of the year, however, and that led plenty of the passionate supporters to express their displeasure as early as in the second half.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

First came a loud chorus of boos during the run of play. Then, a noticeable number of spectators opted to leave the stadium after Ola Kamara made it 3-0 in the 71st minute. The frustration continued at and after the final whistle, as fans made it clear that they were demanding better with more boos, some choice words, and even a critical chant from a part of the La Familia supporters’ section.

“They are at the moment the best thing and we need to start repaying that because they turn out again in the numbers tonight,” said Morgan. “They have always got our back and it is tough when you are not a team that is winning at home.”

Added Neville: “At the moment, we are not giving them anything that we want to give them.”

For better or worse, Inter Miami will have a good bit of time to analyze and correct things. The team does not play again until June 19 because of a pause in action during the upcoming FIFA international window, so there should be ample opportunity for the Herons to collect themselves and try to fine-tune all aspects of their play.

There is lots to address after yet another poor performance, of course, but Inter Miami is adamant about getting it right.

“I said to (the players) at the end, ‘Tonight is not the night going into a 21-day break where we start pointing fingers,” said Neville. “We have got to take collective responsibility, myself included more than anyone, and we have got to make sure we come back after the break … and we are better, harder to beat, more dogged, more determined, and we eradicate the mistakes that we are making that are costing us goals.”