Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville is feeling the pressure as the team sits in 13th place on the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference table, with eight points from 11 games.
The English coach led the South Florida club to two victories this season before suffering five consecutive defeats.
After a two-week break, the team is finally back in action on Saturday facing the daunting New York Red Bulls. Neville must inspire a victory in order to qualify for playoffs in a couple weeks, instilling urgency in his team.
“The team knows what’s expected and what we need to do,” Neville told the media on Thursday. “We’re at the point of no excuses. We need to win games of football.
Defender Kieran Gibbs and goalkeeper Nick Marsman are officially eligible for selection after the team acquired the players during Major League Soccer’s Second Transfer Window.
As preferred starters Ryan Shawcross and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez faced suspensions and Nico Figal suffered time away due to injuries, Gibbs could become Neville’s first choice defender for Saturday’s match. The former Arsenal player and England international could provide stability to an otherwise disorganized bunch.
“He’s a senior England international, he has great experience at the top level,” Neville said. “Within this football club, he can pass on to the other players how to be a professional. In any team, any office or environment, you need leaders. I think Kieran can be a leader. He knows what it takes to succeed. I expect great things from Kieran.”
The veteran defender spent 10 years with Arsenal before featuring for West Brom and eventually finding his way stateside at Inter Miami. He recorded 180 games in the Premier League, while making 10 appearances with the English national team. Despite his experience, Gibbs admitted he will not be taking anything for granted.
“I have to earn my place in the team,” Gibbs said. “Just because I came from the UK doesn’t mean I should come here and play straight away. That’s never how I’ve been. You have to show the manager you deserve to play.”