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Phil Neville gets Portland Timbers head coach job in face of fan complaints

Portland Timbers have named Phil Neville as their head coach on a contract to the end of the 2026 season. Neville, who joined the Canada men’s national team’s coaching staff after leaving Inter Miami in June, replaces Giovanni Savarese at the MLS club.

The 46-year-old Neville, who played in the Premier League for Manchester United and Everton, coached Inter Miami from 2021 until his dismissal. He was coach of the England women’s national team from January 2018 to January 2021, leading them at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Portland’s decision to hire Neville was controversial, and the Timbers Army supporters’ group issued a statement over the weekend asking the club to reconsider after word of his appointment leaked.

The group cited some of Neville’s past statements about women on social media more than a decade ago. Neville has since apologised for the posts and said they “are not a true and genuine reflection of either my character or beliefs”.

The Timbers Army statement said: “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.”

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Neville is expected to be introduced by the Timbers at a press conference on Tuesday. The 2015 MLS Cup winners parted ways with Savarese in August, ending his five-and-a-half year tenure as head coach. The assistant coach Miles Joseph served as interim head coach.