Jim sets sights on a sweet Carolina

McGuinness spurs LOI offers for US coaching move

Jim McGuinness speaking during the recent 2018 FAI Coach Education Conference

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Jim McGuinness says he turned down the opportunity to manage in the League of Ireland as he wanted to prove himself on foreign fields.

Donegal's all-Ireland winning manager of 2012 has been working full-time in soccer since he left his Donegal post, with jobs in Scotland (Celtic) and China (Beijing Guoan).

Since leaving Beijing 11 months ago, he has been assessing his options, spending time in the USA assessing various clubs.

There were offers on the table from the soccer world in Ireland but McGuinness (46) will now try his luck in the USA, beginning a three-year contract with Charlotte Independence, who play in the second tier in the US.

The Glenties man came under pressure from his mother to take up a post in Ireland to be nearer the family's Donegal base but instead North Carolina will be the testing ground for him to bring his GAA success into another code as manager in his own right.

"If my mother had anything to do with it I'd be in Donegal. She kept saying to me, 'Well what about the Dundalk job? What about this job and that job?'," he said.

"She was hoping it would be the (Ireland) U21s job: anything to get you home, get the grandkids closer to home.

"I think it's just a professional decision that this is where I see myself at and this is the challenges that the job will bring and the potential to move forward and develop as a club and to move up."

McGuinness, who was linked with the Galway United job this year, admits there was interest.

"I was linked with a few jobs in Ireland, and I did get one or two offers in Ireland - in the League of Ireland and in the First Division.


"I'd like to thank them for the offers because in, many respects they are taking a punt on you.

"You are coming from a different sport, you are on a development path, you're not a tried-and-tested manager.

"So to put that olive branch out and offer you a job, I was very grateful. But when this one came in, it was sort of slightly different and I felt ticked more boxes for myself.

"There was a part of it, having been in Ireland, I think it would have been easier to walk into a dressing-room in Ireland and everybody to know who you were and how you operate and how you think.

"So to go out of Ireland to a different country and work with players from different cultures in a league that's spread out - it's almost like international travel in many respects for some of the games - a lot of those things I think will benefit me longer term if I continue to develop and continue to move forward.

"It's probably a more difficult path, potentially in terms of getting my head around a lot of new things but I think it will benefit me in the longer run."

McGuinness has already done his homework on the complicated soccer scene in the US, as his new club play in the second tier of the system there, the USL, but no matter how well they do in their division, they cannot (as it stands) get promoted to the MLS.

The club currently play in a 5,000-capacity stadium but have bigger plans, which McGuinness wants to be part of.

"I would like to lead the team into the new stadium, that would be big progress for them and a really important thing in their longer term vision and then hopefully show the MLS commissioners that they're looking to move, that's exciting as well.

"The World Cup is coming as well, so I think it will be a good time to be out, and exciting time, and for me a good place to cut my teeth as a manager."

Dublin-born striker Eamon Zayed has left the club to join Chattanooga Red Wolves but McGuinness is open to recruiting talent from Ireland.