Monday 18 February 2019

Vieira says his past counts for nothing at Nice

NICE MOVE: Patrick Vieira (l) shakes hands with Nice’s president Jean-Pierre Rivere
NICE MOVE: Patrick Vieira (l) shakes hands with Nice’s president Jean-Pierre Rivere

New Nice coach Patrick Vieira insists he does not want to be judged on his glittering playing career after taking over the hotseat at the Ligue 1 club.

The former Arsenal skipper left his post as head coach of Major League Soccer side New York City FC to replace Lucien Favre at the Allianz Riviera.

The 41-year-old Frenchman had been linked with replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal following his departure but he now returns to his homeland to take charge of a Nice side that finished eighth last season.

After joining the Gunners in 1996, Vieira went on to win three Premier League titles, including captaining the club during their unbeaten 'Invincibles' campaign of 2003/04.

He would then win four successive Serie A titles at Inter Milan before lifting a fourth FA Cup of his career having returned to England with Manchester City.

Add to that a 1998 World Cup winners' medal and success at Euro 2000 and Vieira's distinguished career is one that many will remember.

But the man himself is keen to put that to one side as he looks to build on the work he did as the Manchester City academy boss and during his two-and-a-half year stint with NYCFC.

"My career as a player no longer counts, it's part of the past," he said.

"The important thing for me is to have a clear idea of what I want from players, a specific game scheme for them to express themselves, because the talent is there.

"I'm happy. This is what I was looking for: I will work in good conditions with passionate people, who will support me in the good and bad times. I am very happy to be here. There is everything you need here to succeed."

Announcing Vieira's departure, New York City were quick to thank their former coach for his endeavours.

The club's statement read: "Vieira departs after two and a half years at the helm having led the team to two consecutive play-off appearances and with a current second place standing in the Eastern Conference."

There are some big names waiting for Vieira in southern France with former Manchester City team-mate Mario Balottelli the stand-out talent.

The controversial Italy international hit 26 goals for Nice last season and has been linked with a summer move to rivals Marseille.

But Vieira revealed he has spoken to the 27-year-old and expects the forward to be present for pre-season training.

"I called Mario Balotelli to wish him a happy holiday," he added. "Also to tell him that we would see each other on July 2 at the resumption of training. But I take one thing at a time."

Manchester City assistant manager Domenec Torrent has left his position at the Etihad Stadium to take over from Vieira as New York City FC's new manager.

Torrent worked with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

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