Inter Miami: failed experiment or a work in progress?

When the king of European soccer announced he was fronting a new team joining the Major League Soccer set-up, it set the rumour reel into overdrive. David Beckham, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and England attacker, joined Jorge and Jose Mas in launching Inter Miami. The team almost immediately won MLS membership and started playing American top tier soccer in 2020.

With cash in the bank, the pull of Beckham and the experience of head coach Phil Neville, another former star of the game in England, it was predicted Inter Miami would walk the league. Pulling in major players from the English Premiership and other top European leagues, those with an interest in sports betting in Florida predicted a major trophy haul for The Herons.

Things haven’t gone according to plan for Beckham, Neville and the Mas so far. Inter Miami didn’t hit the ground running, as many expected, and they certainly haven’t enjoyed the kind of success they had planned. After two seasons without making an impression on the MLS, people are starting to wonder, is Inter Miami a failed experiment or are the owners playing the long game?

Miami moving in the right direction

The team playing out of Fort Lauderdale announced their arrival in MLS with a disappointing 19th place finish overall, missing out on playoff football and failing to make too much of an impression. After the excitement had died down, the reality of the situation began to settle in. Inter were run by Beckham, he wasn’t playing for them, and this group of hastily arranged names from across the United States and overseas wouldn’t be the overnight sensation many had hoped.

It was a slow season with Scotsman and former Celtic player Lewis Morgan finishing as the club’s top scorer with five goals. The people of Florida failed to take to the team either, and with a limited number of soccer fans in the region, attendance figures weren’t anywhere near as high as the board had hoped, averaging 2,200 fans per home match. In terms of the club’s lofty ambitions, it was a poor start, but for a new club, it was about as good as it gets, but things would improve.

The 2021 season is now in the books, and although Inter again failed to make the playoffs, they are heading in the right direction. The team finished the 2021 campaign 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12 wins, five draws and 17 defeats. That was despite a nightmare start. Miami seemed to finally find their rhythm near the end, winning three of their final five league matches. In that season, they scored 36 goals and conceded 53.

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Becks and Neville swing the axe

With two below-par seasons behind them, the club’s board isn’t prepared to hang around and have been ruthless in recent weeks, swinging the axe and cutting no fewer than ten players from the under-achieving squad. Those who failed to make the grade and failed to bring the success expected were shown the door, and the club’s backroom staff are now working on replacing them. Neville and co have a huge budget to attract new faces to Miami, and some interesting names have already been mentioned.

The draw of playing in the MLS isn’t as big as England, Italy, Germany, France or Spain but the opportunity to reside in the Magic City and earn the kind of wages Inter can afford to pay is sure to interest some of the sport’s most talented and experienced players. The first name to arrive is a promotion with manager Neville moving his son Harvey from the backup squad to the full team.

If the youngster is as good as his father and uncle were during the peak of their playing career, then Miami fans will have a star on their hands. Not only that, the club will have a player that could, if he reaches his potential, be sold to a club in Europe for big bucks. That could help convince other rising stars that cutting their teeth in MLS is a great career choice.

It appears Inter Miami is aiming for a big season, mixing the ambition of youth with the big names from across planet football.