Phil Neville says his Inter Miami side finally understand what it takes to be a successful team, marking the end of a six-month building process at the club.
Former England international Neville signed a two-year contract with the Herons in January following a nearly-three-year spell in charge of the England Women’s National Team.
Neville struggled to adjust to life in MLS, winning just two of his opening 12 games in charge, culminating in a six-game losing run between 22 May and 22 July.
But since then, the penny seems to have dropped and the Herons have lost just one of their last 10 games – picking up six wins and climbing up to ninth in the Eastern Conference during that time, with only two points now separating them from the playoff spots.
Neville admits it took six months for him to truly convey his methods to his squad, who are finally playing as a team rather than a group of individuals.
“It took six months to get them to where I wanted to get them to, to get them to understand what I was about, to get them to understand what it takes to become and have a successful team,” Neville remarked following Inter Miami’s 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday (via MLSsoccer.com).
“Which means you can’t be a team of individuals. It means that you can’t just go out there and try to win the game on your own. The best teams don’t do that.
“Columbus last season, they went out there and were the best team in the league because they played as a team. And that wasn’t just the 11 players on the field. It was a 22-man squad plus the staff plus the supporting staff.”
To get to this point, Miami have had to call upon qualities even Neville himself didn’t know they had.
“We’re showing all the qualities that people probably from outside the club didn’t think that this team had,” he added. “And probably, two months ago, I and the players didn’t feel that as well. We probably didn’t know that we had these qualities inside us.
“I’ve got to say that I didn’t think we had these qualities inside when I saw us for the first maybe two months of the season. Players have been absolutely outstanding, showing an incredible fight – sometimes against adversity, sometimes when the going gets tough.”
Having kept three consecutive clean sheets, Miami travel to bottom-of-the-East Toronto FC on Tuesday before back-to-back home games against the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC.