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Is Patrick Vieira The Right Choice For NYCFC?

(JACQUES BRINON/AP)

New York City FC unveiled that Patrick Vieira will take over as manager after the firing of Jason Kreis, but is the French legend ready for the job?

Vieira, 39, had a long successful career on the field as a player. He’s most known for his time with Arsenal. The French midfielder won three Premier League titles and four FA Cup titles with the Gunners under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger. Vieira was dominant force in the center of the pitch and was known for his physical play. He and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane were considered two of the toughest players in the Premier League during the 90s.

Vieira also played for Juventus and Inter Milan in the Serie A and won three Serie A championships with Inter. He won a league title with Juventus, but that was rescinded after the Calciopoli scandal that saw Juventus getting demoted to Serie B. He left Juve and joined Inter where he had a great veteran presence together with Javier Zannetti.

He finished up his playing career with two seasons with Manchester City before retiring in 2011. Vieira was part of the French national team that won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He ended up making 107 appearances for France.

He took over Manchester City’s reserve team and coached them between 2013-15. At the turn of the new year, he will officially step into his role as manager for NYCFC. There’s no secret that the team was looking for a bigger name than Kreis to be the manager, and from that standpoint the hiring of Vieira makes sense. If you then take into account that Manchester City and NYCFC are both owned by the City Football Group (the group also owns Melbourne City FC in the Australian league as well as a minority share of Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan) it makes even more sense.

City’s reserves have a lot of talented players, but there isn’t nearly as much pressure managing a reserve side as it will be at NYCFC. The team lost out on the playoffs in its inaugural MLS season, but expectations will be high going into the 2016 season. The team will have a full year with Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo along with Spanish striker David Villa. Anything but a playoff spot next season would, and should, be seen as a failure.

Vieira’s extensive knowledge of the game from his playing days will give him instant credibility with the team and the New York media, but he’s still unproven as a manager. The MLS isn’t an easy league to coach in, as the league has a lot of unique rules, like playing during FIFA breaks, so Vieira will have to adapt quickly to his new environment.

The league has been a tough nut to crack for foreign managers, so it remains to be seen if Vieira can overcome the odds. He’s spent time in the City system, so the philosophy will be the same, but he will have to learn quickly as he goes.

It’s difficult to gauge what kind of manager Vieira is, but the ownership group clearly shows a lot of faith in him, and probably sees it as a stepping stone to one day take over Manchester City if everything goes according to plan.

From a media standpoint, the hire of such a well-respected name will only increase the amount of coverage that the league will receive from overseas. Maybe we’ll even get to see a French NYCFC fan group next season at Yankee Stadium.

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