Patrick Vieira has taken his first steps in to first team management after agreeing to become the new head coach of American Major League Soccer franchise New York City Football Club.
It will not have surprised many that the Frenchman was given the job, Vieira having been in charge of the Elite Development squad at Premier League side Manchester City, who also happen to be New York City’s parent club. However, I genuinely believe Vieira deserves the opportunity to be his own boss and show the footballing world how good a coach he is.
Patrick Vieira enjoyed a marvellous playing career with Cannes, AC Milan, Arsenal, Juventus, Internazionale and Manchester City, and was also capped 107 times by France. The powerhouse midfielder won countless trophies during his career – league titles with Arsenal, Juventus and Internazionale, the English FA Cup with both Arsenal and Manchester City, and both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships with France.
It was during a hugely successful nine year stay with Arsenal that Vieira became a household name. A big part of this would have been his manager at Arsenal, Arsène Wenger, whom it is only natural to assume has played a part in his fellow countryman pursuing a career in coaching.
Arsène Wenger is himself a very forward thinking coach. After joining Arsenal in 1996, Wenger’s methods revolutionised The Gunners and in many people’s opinion, was the catalyst for the more professional approach to the game in this country. It will be very interesting to see if Vieira makes similarly revolutionary changes to his side.
This is not to imply that Vieira is not his own man. He has been linked to a whole host of jobs recently and was interviewed by Newcastle United in May 2015 before deciding to remain with Manchester City. Vieira strikes me as the kind of individual who is attracted by the whole aspect of a football club and chose to wait for what he believes is the right move for him.
Vieira replaces American Jason Kreis, who left New York by mutual consent following what was deemed to be a disappointing inaugural season in the MLS. New York finished eighth in the Eastern Conference regular season table, missing out on the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. New York drew seventeen of their regular season matches and turning those draws in to victories will be something Vieira will look to address.
With the exception of their three designated players – Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, New York’s squad has a good blend of youth and experience, the majority of which has been gained playing in the MLS. Vieira is due to take charge of New York at the start of January, which will give him a full preseason to assess his playing squad before the 2016 regular season kicks off.
What will be interesting to observe is how long the honeymoon period lasts. Although soccer is not the city of New York’s number one sport, the people of the city are very passionate and expect to see their teams do well. Add to that the backing of Manchester City and the New York Yankees – the club play their home matches at Yankee Stadium – and you have a combination of a lot of people wanting immediate success.
So what would constitute a successful first season for Patrick Vieira? The obvious answer would be to at least make the playoffs – that would show progress if nothing else – and a challenge for the conference title or the US Open Cup. Getting the team to play as a team and getting the best out of his designated players would also be a success. In my opinion the form of Lampard and Pirlo, both in the twilight of their careers will be vital. David Villa will always score you goals, but if City’s two veteran midfielders control the game, New York City will certainly win more games in 2016.
One air of caution would be the failure to qualify for the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs. Should this be the case, Patrick Vieira’s stay in New York could be a short one.