Major League Soccer side Portland Timbers are apparently close to naming their next head coach, with Phil Neville a leading candidate.

The club has been without an official manager since firing Giovanni Savarese back in August. The Venezuelan previously led the team to the MLS playoffs in four of his five full seasons at the helm.

Nevertheless, after struggling in the most recent campaign the Timbers moved on.

According to The Athletic, the Timbers are in “advanced talks” to sign Phil Neville as head coach. Although the deal is not yet complete, the move will likely go through soon. The news outlet also claims that Robin Fraser, Dome Torrent, Ezra Hendrickson, and the team’s current interim head coach, Miles Joseph, were all finalists in the search for a new manager.

Neville previously spent two-and-a-half years as head coach of fellow MLS side Inter Miami. The defender’s former teammate, David Beckham, hired him to manage Miami in 2021. Neville, however, did not succeed in South Florida. He managed to win just 39% of his matches in charge of the club.

Miami eventually parted ways with Neville after a disastrous first half of the most recent campaign. The former Manchester United star left the team prior to Lionel Messi’s arrival. Along with managing Miami, Neville also coached the England women’s national team for three years.

Giovanni Savarese was recently fired by the Portland Timbers
Giovanni Savarese was recently fired by the Portland Timbers

Giovanni Savarese was recently fired by the Portland Timbers

Neville previously deleted social media account after series of sexist posts

Upon his appointment as manager of the Lionesses, Neville came under fire for previous sexist remarks on social media. In one Tweet, the coach began a post by saying “morning men.” Some then asked Neville if he would address women as well. Neville responded by saying: “When I said morning men I thought the women would [have] been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making beds-sorry, morning women!”

Along with the odd interaction, Neville also previously claimed to had “just battered the wife” as well. Neville eventually deleted the Twitter account after the posts received thousands of retweets.

Timbers Army publicly calls on club to reconsider the potential decision

News of the Timbers apparently appointing Neville has not gone down well with a key supporter group. Timbers Army, an independent fan group created over two decades ago. Members of the group took the the app formerly known as Twitter to criticize the decision.

“We are deeply disappointed that the club has reportedly settled on a finalist for head coach who has a history of sexist public statements that run counter to our ethos as a club, city, and supporters’ group, and who also lacks a proven track record as a manager,” stated the group. “We urge the Timbers to reconsider this hire and reevaluate other candidates before finalizing a contract.”

It remains to be seen if the club will, in fact, listen to the supporter group. Nevertheless, assuming Neville is still set to be hired, he will inherit a fairly difficult job.

The Timbers finished 10th out of 14 teams in the MLS Western Conference this past season. The club also had the second-worst defensive record in their conference as well.

Photo credits: IMAGO / TheNews2 : IMAGO / Icon Sportswire