David Beckham's MLS impact can't be recreated and Phil Neville can succeed, says Friedel

David Beckham’s contribution to raising the profile of MLS as a player won’t be repeated as an owner, according to former USMNT goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

Having witnessed the now-Inter Miami owner's influence when he first joined MLS as an LA Galaxy player, Brad Friedel feels Beckham's global impact will be felt but not matched in comparison to last time.

The former American goalkeeper knows all about MLS, having managed New England Revolution from 2017 to 2019.

He suggested Beckham's move to the USA paved the way, making it more attractive for bigger stars to move across, hence why Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi and Carlos Vela will all ply their trade in MLS next season.

Friedel, who made 549 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham, also had his say on Beckham's fellow 'Class of '92' member Phil Neville.

Brad Friedel managed New England Revolution for two years in MLS
Brad Friedel managed New England Revolution for two years in MLS

Paying credit to Neville's managerial quality, Friedel insisted the Inter Miami boss would be well-equipped to deal with the various challenges MLS poses.

He also backed Neville to manage big-name signings, given his playing experience with Manchester United and managerial background with England women's national team.

With the MLS 2021 season less than a month away from starting, Friedel previewed the upcoming season in an exclusive interview with CardsChat.

"The impact that Beckham had on the MLS as a player can't be repeated as an owner. The impact that David had on MLS reverberated globally," said Friedel, who admitted the world didn't widely know about MLS until Beckham's arrival.

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"And he got MLS into media outlets and social media outlets that MLS could never have imagined without the signing of him."

Beckham's stint with LA Galaxy lasted five years, despite spending two of those seasons on loan at Milan, and now he returns to MLS as an owner with Inter Miami.

David Beckham's LA Galaxy move rocked the world of football
David Beckham's LA Galaxy move rocked the world of football

Will he have the same global impact for the competition nowadays? Perhaps not but Friedel insisted he can still make a large impression.

"If they win the league, will it be because David Beckham won the league? I think it will be Inter Miami and David's name will definitely be there."

"What he did for the league will never be replicated by anyone unless Ronaldo and Messi come over at the same time. But what David did for the league is just second to none to what anyone's done in the league so far."

Friedel is no stranger to management himself, having had spells with both New England Revolution and United States U-19 side.

In fact, Neville and Friedel's paths have crossed, not just in Premier League encounters but before their respective managerial careers too - and Friedel feels Neville is more than capable of succeeding on American shores, on both tactical and personal levels.

"I did my pro licence with Phil Neville so I know all about his quality. I think it's a great hire, I really do."

"The players will like him, he speaks Spanish from his time at Valencia, which will help him here in Miami. It will also help with a lot of the foreign players that you bring in, because there's a huge influx of players from South America that come in."

However, Friedel is under no illusions that success isn't necessarily a given, even after crediting Neville's managerial credentials.

With the complex rules structure and an influx of players from all around the globe, it isn't bound to be the most straightforward of jobs.

"It takes [managers] a while to know all the rules, and then by the time they know all the rules, they probably would have liked to man-manage the players a little bit different."

On the topic of players, Neville, given his playing and coaching experience with Manchester United, Valencia and England women's national team, is well-suited for the role, according to Friedel.

"Neville will be fine to deal with big name signings like Higuain and Matuidi. He played at one of the biggest clubs in the world for a long time."

The former USA international however, did have a word of caution for Neville before the MLS season gets underway in April.

"If he thinks he's going to come in and only be able to set his rules his way, he'll be sorely mistaken because you do have to understand that the level of professionalism that he's used to is going to be a lot different over here."

"Hopefully he hits the ground running and does a great job because he's a really, really good guy."

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Inter Miami kick off their MLS campaign against Beckham's former side LA Galaxy on April 18 and Neville, backed by his former team-mate Beckham, will certainly be hoping for a positive start to life in the USA.

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