David Beckham the player, the brand, and the person are all synonymous with success. Understandably so. He accomplished plenty on the field during his playing career and plenty off of it during and after as well.
Now, however, is the time for him to step up and apply that winning touch to one of his biggest and most ambitious challenges to date: Inter Miami.
The 2021 MLS season is quickly approaching, and one of the teams that, at least from the outside, appears to be in a big state of disarray is Beckham’s Inter Miami. Not only did the South Florida side endure a disappointing and disjointed expansion campaign last year, but two key leadership figures have left the club in as many months in what has been a telenovela of sorts. First it was Paul McDonough choosing to “step down” from his sporting director role in December, and then this week head coach Diego Alonso decided to mutually part ways with the Herons.
Naturally, this upheaval has led to a deluge of questions about the expansion team, questions that have largely gone unanswered. That is because Beckham, team co-owner Jorge Mas, and other Inter Miami officials have avoided talking to the press since the 2020 campaign ended. That silence has only served to add to the amateurish feel of the current state of Inter Miami, a club that has claimed it wants to be not only one of the biggest in MLS, but in this hemisphere.
Some answers as to how Inter Miami plans to move forward have started to seep through the cracks. The Miami Herald reported a week ago that Beckham is going to take a more active role in soccer-related decisions, which makes sense given the Englishman’s wide network of connections in the futbol world. Surely the idea there is that Beckham with his knowledge of the game and familiarity with MLS can help build a team under the league’s rules that is more competitive than the one that finished 2020 with an underwhelming 7-13-3 record.
Player acquisitions will very likely be at the forefront of such a role for Beckham, but so too will be naming a new head coach and apparently one is already being targeted. Reports out of England this week said Phil Neville has held talks with Inter Miami about the team’s managerial position, and the move would make a lot of sense given his strong ties to Beckham. Not only are the two former teammates from their playing days, but they are also business partners as part of the ownership group of English fourth division side Salford City and personal friends.
Of course, questions will be raised if that were to come to pass, which seems a good bet at this point. For example, what if Neville — who has never been head coach of a club or men’s team — does a poor job? Would Beckham really have no qualms about pulling the plug on his friend or is Neville going to get a longer leash because of his close ties to his compatriot? Would Beckham distance himself from the team publicly much in the same way he did in 2020 when the going got tough?
Whatever the answers to those questions are and regardless of how Inter Miami decides to proceed ahead of the 2021 season, be it conventional or not, what is clear is that Beckham and Mas need to make sure their adopted approach is a slam dunk. They were largely responsible for the on-the-field shortcomings and failures of the inaugural campaign, because they are the ones that hired the sporting director that hired the head coach that led the players to a poor season.
Now, the owners have pushed the reset button and will get an opportunity to start almost from scratch. More of the responsibility will be on Beckham, though. Mas is the local investor and the one who has been footing a lot of the bill since coming on board, and he is clearly passionate about both Inter Miami and winning. You need only see him living every moment of every home game to understand that.
Mas, however, is fairly new to soccer, whereas Beckham has worked in the sport almost his entire life. The global icon also played in MLS for years, so he should have somewhat of a better idea of how things work both on and off the field in the league. Of course, it must be noted that being a good or great player does not necessarily translate into being a good negotiator, decision-maker, or front office member. There are plenty of examples of that throughout the world in all sports.
Still, it is Beckham that must now deliver and show his worth. Inter Miami as a whole is in need of some revitalization after its bad expansion season, and Beckham, the serial winner, runs the risk of adding a very public defeat to his resume if he can’t help his club overcome its disappointing first season.