On a Tuesday in the big city, NYCFC welcomed a new head coach named Ronny Deila. The question remains, “For how long?”
Is Ronny Deila—appointed Tuesday as the third coach in New York City FC franchise history—the proper choice? The club believes they have the proper choice to lead them in the next decade before their MLS season opener at Yankee Stadium in mid-March.
NYCFC—established in 2015, the 20th MLS franchise and first in New York City—has enjoyed limited stability guiding them on the sidelines. Not that previous coaches Patrick Vieira and Domenec Torrent were total failures.
Both guided NYCFC to the MLS playoffs. They came up short for the MLS Cup, but this is a league and accustomed to coaches that come and go. They took on lucrative opportunities overseas. Torrent is the manager of the Spanish Football Association and Vieira is guiding the Nice Club in France.
You can’t blame them for seeking that opportunity. Though Major League Soccer has made progress in competing with mainstream sports leagues in major markets here, overall coaching transition is common.
MLS franchises can’t top the salaries that are offered from those prestigious leagues.
Coaching, though, is not the reason NYCFC failed to advance past the MLS Eastern Conference Finals after winning their first conference title last season. Torrent, a 2018 mid-season replacement for Vieira, decided not to renew his contract and took on that lucrative opportunity.
Vieira, after taking NYCFC to the Eastern Conference semifinals, opted to leave midseason and coach with OGC Nice in France.
So, NYCFC, once again, begins the transition before their official season opener with an extensive and considered a late search.
Deila, a three-time title-winning manager at multiple European clubs including Celtic FC in Scotland, joins NYCFC from Norwegian club Vålerenga where he served as manager beginning in 2017. He has signed a three-year contract with the Club and will join NYCFC pending the approval of a U.S. work permit.
After an extensive playing career, most notably at Odds BK in his native Norway, he took charge of Strømsgodset in 2008. Deila won his first trophy in 2010 capturing the Norwegian Football Cup and then led the club to its first league title in 43 years in 2013.
Deila left Strømsgodset for Celtic FC in 2014 and won back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles during his time in Glasgow. Additionally, Deila has managed in both the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds and UEFA Europa League, and also won the Scottish League Cup in 2015.
“When the opportunity came up to join New York City FC as their new head coach, it was a dream come true for me to manage an amazing Club in a great city,” Deila said Tuesday.
Great credentials. But the fanbase is also an important part of this. They want a permanent coach and of course that first MLS Cup that has come up short the past two years.
“When I come in, it’s important to continue to build on what’s already proven to be a strong foundation and to get some of my ideas across,” Deila said.
“The way I want to play and the way NYCFC has played is very similar. I’m a very attacking coach. We want to have the ball as much as possible, but also try to be direct when you have those opportunities.”
NYCFC is set to return nearly 95 percent of last season’s goal scorers as well as four defenders who started more than 24 games from the league’s fourth-ranked defense. Club captain Alex Ring and United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper Sean Johnson will also return in 2020.
Deila will take the reins of the Club coming off its best season in franchise history. NYCFC finished atop the Eastern Conference in 2019 and qualified for the Concacaf Champions League for the first time in Club history.
But it has been the attack of NYCFC teams that has attributed to their success of reaching the MLS postseason the past two years. This coach uses that approach and will be accustomed to their play that has worked.
And with a majority of players returning, which also attributes to success in this league, Deila could get off to the right start.
“I’m really looking forward to getting going and getting to know the players in preseason and begin my time at NYCFC,” Deila said. “I’m ready to see our supporters and hopefully we’ll have a wonderful relationship.”
And that is a key for this fan base, a relationship with their coach and that stability on the sidelines. There is no telling how long this will last. Reportedly, Diela has a three-year deal.
Again, his salary was not released as is with the hiring of coaches in the league. That fanbase hopes for success and a coach that will fulfill the years on his contract and time will tell.
And the future is a key component with the hiring of this new coach. He has a reputation for winning and building a foundation which is important in this league.
Important, more so, because this is a major market for the MLS.