Sport Soccer

Saturday 15 December 2018

Former New York midfielder says European clubs would be ‘lucky to have’ Vieira

Mikey Lopez was very impressed by the Frenchman during his time at New York City.

Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Patrick Vieira has been backed to be a successful manager in Europe by one of his former New York City players.

The 41-year-old has drawn plenty of plaudits since taking over at the Major League Soccer side in 2016 and has been one of the names mooted as a potential successor to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Helped by the fact he captained the Gunners during their unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04, Vieira has emerged as a favourite to replace his former manager – who has announced he will leave the Emirates Stadium at the end of the season.

Vieira captained Arsenal during their last Premier League title success in 2004.

Vieira, who previously worked in the youth academy at Manchester City, recently told The Times: “It’s an honour to be mentioned with Arsenal. It was somewhere I spent nine years and I love the club. I played my best football there and made my name in the game.

“I am always going to have a deeper relationship with Arsenal. That is not enough to coach the team but I’m ready to coach any side in Europe.”

While other names in the frame, such as Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri, may have more top-level experience of managing in Europe, former New York City midfielder Mikey Lopez believes he witnessed first-hand that Vieira is equally as capable.

“I think any team in Europe would be lucky to have him as their coach,” the 25-year-old told Press Association Sport.

“Patrick has kind of changed soccer here but to know that a coach who made his name here is being considered for the manager’s job at Arsenal is huge.

“If he does take the job there, I think he would do a really good job because of the type of person and hard worker he is.”

Lopez – who now plays for San Antonio FC – was one of the first signings made following Vieira’s appointment as New York City head coach.

The former United States youth international was impressed by his ability to use experiences from a successful playing career to improve his players.

“Coach Patrick is very hands on. Everything we did, for the most part, was led by him,” Lopez added.

“I think his biggest attributes as a coach were hard work, dedication and the fact that he was personable. You could see that his hard work from his playing years transferred over to when he became a coach.

Vieira has been backed as a potential replacement for outgoing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

“The fact that he was personable and humble, it made things easier for the younger guys to be able to not be scared or intimidated to talk to him.

“He was an amazing coach and since he had gone through the stuff we went through, he was able to give every single person advice specific to who they were or what they were going through.

“He helped me a lot because we kind of played the same position. He would give me advice on how I can be better defensively. He was a great mentor and teacher.”

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