He has only been in the job for four months but new York City FC manager Patrick Vieira already knows one things. Coaching in Major League Soccer more difficult than in Europe.
Former Arsenal star Vieira, who was appointed NYCFC manager in November, said learning about the league’s structure has been “fascinating” ahead of his first game in charge on Sunday.
“I just think that coaching in the MLS is of course harder than in Europe,” Vieira told MLSSoccer.com. “Because of the salary cap and the roster, and the way you have to make things balanced in the squad, making sure you have the players you need.
“In Europe, if you want a player, you just go out and buy them. Here, you can’t do it unless you have all these certain criteria. It is really interesting, really fascinating.
“Because this is all about coaching as well — having the balance in your roster and spending your money the right way. I like it. I really do like it. Of course I still have a lot of the rules to learn to understand, but next to [NYCFC directors David Lee and Claudio Reyna], I’m getting it.”
Vieira also said players who enter the league after playing in college present an additional challenge, and he suggested the American development system must change if MLS is ever to compete on a global scale.
“When I’m seeing players coming out from college at 22 or 23 years old and playing a three-month season over the year, something’s not right, you know what I mean?” Vieira said. “When you come out of college at 22 or 23, that’s really late.
“It’s going to be a challenge because of how the system works. And we need to find a way to work in that system, that’s the way it is, but to try and see if we can be more creative … There are basics that you just have to learn at an early age. If you have to wait until 14, 15, 16 to learn them, it’s too late.
“It’s all about how much they will want to implement soccer in the U.S. as well. If you really want to develop soccer, you will need to come up with a different way of developing young players.”
But Vieira said he has welcomed the challenge of leading a team in MLS and vowed to stay with NYCFC for at least the next three seasons, rather than move to a larger opportunity in Europe.
“I already am coaching for a big club,” he said. “I made the decision to come here because this was the right place for me. This is where I can achieve what I want.
“If it works for the next 10 years, I’d be more than happy to stay. If I stayed here for 10 years and we win year after year, I’d stay no problem at all. [Failure] is part of the job as a coach. It’s part of the pressure — you have to do well. If I do well, I would be more than happy to stay.
“I don’t have an ambition to go. People say, ‘Oh, he’s just coming here for a few years.’ For me to say it’s wrong, it would be a waste of time. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody on that side. The fact is that I’m coming here and am really happy here because I’m really fascinated with this project. That’s the reason why I signed the three-year contract here.
“If I don’t get sacked before then, I will be here for the three years easy.”