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NYC FC Take Huge Gamble Naming Patrick Vieira Head Coach

patrick-vieraNew York City FC who enjoyed a miserable first season in MLS both on and off the pitch having taken another big gamble with the announcement that Patrick Vieira will be the club’s new head coach. Vieira has signed a three-year deal with NYCFC, and will begin his role on Jan. 1.

This is a huge gamble by New York City FC and their owners Manchester City. While Vieira had a distinguished playing career that saw him win the 1998 World Cup with France, as well as capture three English Premier League titles and three Serie A crowns, his only head coaching experience has been the last two seasons where he has been head coach of the Elite Development Squad at Manchester City.

Under Jason Kreis NYCFC missed out on the playoffs in their inaugural season in the league as the club finished with a 10-17-7 record and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Like most expansion teams NYCFC has star power in the likes of David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo, but the squad lacks depth at many positions.

“I am delighted to take up the role of Head Coach of New York City FC,” said Vieira in the club’s statement. “To work with this squad, with Claudio Reyna and Rob Vartughian and the fantastic support team that is in place, is an exciting prospect for any coach.

“This established football set up, together with a passionate and loyal fan base, located in a special city which I know well, makes for an unparalleled opportunity that I am delighted to seize with both hands. I cannot wait to get started.”

“The open position of head coach at New York City FC has prompted significant interest and I have no doubt that in Patrick, we have one of the most impressive young coaches I have encountered,” said NYCFC president Tom Glick in a statement.

“Patrick’s ability, vision and the respect in which he is held by everyone who works with him, speaks volumes for his character and capacity to succeed. I am excited to work with him and I know the energy he will bring to the role will have a hugely positive impact across the Club.”

Very few foreign coaches succeed in MLS due to the single ownership system ad salary cap restrictions. And as Steven Gerrard said recently about the difficulties of playing in MLS:

“Going on the road, playing on (artificial) turf, playing at altitude, playing in humidity, those are the hurdles that I’ve had to face over the last three months that I wasn’t aware of,” he said. “Every away game has a different challenge.”

It will be interesting to see how Viera fares as a head coach. NYCFC finished 12 points behind TFC for the last playoff game last season and I am not sure where they will pick up those points under Viera. Yes they will have Pirlo and Lampard for the whole season, but as we saw this season, they are two aging superstars whose energy will be sapped by the travel and heat of MLS. And its not like Viera can go out and buy new players to boost his squad. His three DPs are fixed and they have only one pick in the 2015 Draft.

Which means that Viera is basically stuck with the same squad that New York had last season. Which does not bode well for his success.

How do you think Viera will do in MLS?