PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite pushback from the fan base, the Portland Timbers announced the hire of their new manager on Monday.
Phil Neville will be the Timbers’ fourth head coach since becoming an MLS club in 2009. Neville signed a three-year deal with the club through 2026, the organization said. Neville will be formally introduced as head coach at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
The move comes after the Timbers parted ways with manager Giovanni Savarese in August — Savarese had coached the Timbers since 2017.
“We are thrilled to welcome Phil Neville as the new head coach of the Portland Timbers, and we look forward to making Phil and his family feel at home in Portland,” said Timbers General Manager Ned Grabavoy. “Phil’s character makes him the right person to lead this team forward as we continue to reshape the group with a goal of returning to sustained success. His leadership qualities, diverse experience as a coach, and ambition to evolve made him a terrific fit here with us in Portland.”
“I am massively excited about the challenge ahead, and from the very first moment I met the staff I knew it was the right opportunity for me, the right club for me and the right city for me,” added Neville. “The fans are the most important part of this football club with their intensity and support, and I think this journey is going to be something special. I have great memories visiting Portland, which reminds me of Manchester, my hometown, and I can’t wait for my family to get to know this beautiful city.”
However, not all are thrilled with the new hire.
The Timbers Army, one of the most passionate fan organizations in the MLS, took to social media on Friday to express their displeasure with Neville when it was reported he was the Timbers lead candidate.
“We are deeply disappointed that the club has reportedly settled on a finalist for a 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 lacks the proven track record as a manager. We urge the Timbers to reconsider this hire and reevaluate other candidates,” the post said in part.
The sexist statements that The Timbers Army is referring to are likely related to multiple insensitive tweets that Neville sent out in 2011 and 2012.
“Relax, I’m back chilled- just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!” one of the posts read.
Another tweet from 2012 said that “women always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills.”
Neville apologized for the tweets in 2018 when they resurfaced after he was hired as England Women’s National Team coach.
The hire comes in the wake of multiple recent scandals involving the Portland Timbers and Thorns, including failing to disclose an incident of domestic violence and allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct.
Prior to being hired by the Timbers, Neville managed Inter Miami for the better part of three seasons before getting fired in June. He also played professionally for Manchester United (1994-2005) and Everton (2005-2013).