Patrick Vieira hasn’t even started his new job at New York City FC in Major League Soccer, but one of the richest and most ambitious teams in the world are already touting him to be their head coach.
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Vieira, 39, has been coaching Manchester City’s youth and Elite Development squads over the past few years and the former Arsenal, Juventus, Inter Milan and French national team midfielder is highly regarded by the City Football Group (CFG).
That led to one of the finest midfielders in Premier League history being handed the opportunity to coach City’s sister club in MLS, NYCFC, and although taking the reins from Jason Kreis will be Vieira’s first head coaching job in the game, many believe he has a bright future as a manager.
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One of those believers is CFG’s Football Administrator Officer Brian Marwood, who told Sky Sports that Vieira has already been earmarked to manage Man City.
“He began life as a coach with our elite development squad and he’s got the strength, it was important that we wanted to keep him within the family and we want him to grow and develop,” Marwood said. “Like we do with all of our coaches, medical teams, scouting team, if you have good people you need to make sure you are developing them. They have to feel that there’s a future here for them.
“It was important for us that we could find the next development stage for Patrick and it was still as part of the group. That opportunity came about in New York, we are really excited, he is really excited and it is exactly the next step he needs. Hopefully at some point he will come back and manage Manchester City. That’s the ambition for him and that’s the ambition for us. He has to go through this learning curve.”
Vieira’s learning curve in MLS will be a steep one as he takes charge of NYCFC for the next three seasons and must deliver success in a team which includes Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa.
Tabbing him to be the next City manager seems a little premature, especially as Vieira will have to navigate the weird and wonderful world of MLS with the salary cap, draft and many other factors coming into play which he will not be used to after playing and coaching Europe for his entire career thus far. However, if Vieira is capable of building a successful club in NYC and makes the most of his opportunity in MLS, it’s easy to see that the next step for him would be to head back to the mothership and coach City.
The philosophy of owner Sheikh Mansour is to use people who have been involved in the project from the start and Vieira fits that bill after playing his last season as a pro with City and leading them to the FA Cup in 2011, their first major trophy in 35 years. Since then many more have followed and the Frenchman has been behind-the-scenes helping develop the academy at City’s hugely impressive CFA home.
Time will tell how far away that is from happening, but with Manuel Pellegrini under contract until 2017 and the likes of Pep Guardiola repeatedly linked with the head-coaching job at the Etihad, interesting times lie ahead.