New York City FC’s new head coach Patrick Vieira has told the club’s official website that he has spoken to former Arsenal and France teammate Thierry Henry to get some insight into MLS ahead of beginning his managerial career in the USA.
Vieira, who has been coaching sister club Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad since 2013, will take over at NYCFC from 1 January after signing a three-year deal to replace the sacked Jason Kreis at the helm.
With no previous MLS experience, the 39-year-old Frenchman admits that he a lot to learn about the league’s unique rules and acquisition methods before starting his new job, but he has been getting advice from an old friend in the meantime.
Henry spent four-and-a-half years at the New York Red Bulls before retiring in December 2014, and Vieira has been picking his fellow Gunners legend’s brain about what to expect once he heads across the Atlantic to begin preparing NYCFC for their second season.
“We spent time talking about his experience in MLS,” Vieira told nycfc.com. “I’ve also been watching the games. It’s a really exciting challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Of course, I still have a lot to learn about MLS, but what is important for me is to have the right people around me who can help me to understand who things work.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s still the same football – it’s 11 vs 11. The size of the goals are the same as in Europe.”
Vieira will also have NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna working alongside him at Yankee Stadium and he believes the former Sunderland and City midfielder’s knowledge of MLS will be vital while he gets to grips with the league.
“Claudio is someone who has fantastic experience as a footballer, and knowing MLS really well, he will be somebody that will be really important for me,” the former World Cup winner added. “I’m really looking forward to working with him.
"His help will be massively important and, at the same time, helping him in a project like this will be really good.
“I really want to play attractive football, really offensive football. I would like to create chances, to score goals. This is the way I grew up as a player and as a manager I will push the team to do it.”
Vieira, who ended his playing career at City in 2011 before initially moving into an ambassadorial role, is known to be highly-regarded by ownership and is even believed to have been earmarked as a potential successor to Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.
However, with no previous managerial experience, his spell at NYCFC will prove a real test of his coaching skills after the team fell 12 points short of the playoffs in their inaugural season.
Their eight-place finish in the Eastern Conference saw head coach Jason Kreis shown the exit door, despite expansion teams traditionally struggling from the offset, and the new boss will need to get the best out of big-name stars Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa if he wants to outperform his predecessor.
At the same time, though, he may also get some help from City in the shape of a few young loanees, having seen EDS defenders Shay Facey and Angelino spend time in New York last term.