Patrick Vieira says MLS is ready to take off 'like Premier League 20 years ago'

Vieira says MLS is ready to take off 'like Premier League 20 years ago'
By Reuters

04/03/2016 at 19:45Updated 04/03/2016 at 20:22

Former France international Patrick Vieira begins a managerial adventure on Sunday when his New York City FC visit the Chicago Fire to kick off their Major League Soccer season.

Vieira, who played 107 times for France and was a member of the team which won the 1998 World Cup and European Championship two years later, debuts in first-team management after coaching the development squad of NYCFC parent club Manchester City.

The Senegal-born Vieira, speaking to Reuters after practice on Thursday, is excited about bringing his vision of winning football to the pitch and considers MLS a worthy testing ground.

"What is going on in the MLS is like what was going on in the UK 20 years ago," said Vieira, who also won three Premier League titles with Arsenal, a Serie A crown with Juventus and three more Italian league titles with Inter Milan before ending his playing career with Manchester City in 2011.

"I remember myself when I went to England coming from Italy. I didn't have so much information about the English football. The English football was good, yes, but it wasn't the way it is now.

"The MLS will grow up in the same way and I think they just have to keep working and be patient and it will develop because more players from Europe will come to the U.S. because the league will get bigger and bigger and more exciting."

Vieira, 39, took over from American coach Jason Kreis, who failed to make the playoffs in the club's inaugural season in the North American league, losing half of the club's 34 games.

NYCFC finished eighth in the 10-team Eastern Conference to the dismay of their supporters at Yankee Stadium, home of co-owners the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball.

Mixing promising young players with impressive imports in Italy's Andrea Pirlo, Spaniard David Villa and Englishman Frank Lampard, Vieira said he would consider the season a success if he is able to create the identity he has in mind for the club.

"I want to see players who are going to impose themselves on the field," said Vieira. "I want to see players who are putting pressure to the opposition team. I want to see players who are running, who are tackling, who go on the field saying, 'We are going to win games.'

"We want to dictate the game."