New York City FC are reportedly set to hire Ronny Deila as their new head coach. While it may not be the most inspiring hire, at least it is some progress.
The appointment of a new head coach is often a time for hope and optimism. While the wrong hire will obviously draw criticism and frustration from the fanbase, whenever a new man is handed the keys to the car, there is a natural optimism that believes in his ability to make it drive.
Of course, there are some names that are more exciting than others. Montreal Impact fans are likely much more excited about Thierry Henry than they ever were about his predecessor, Wimer Cabrera.
But such is the importance and influence of a head coach at a football, it is almost always possible to talk yourself into believing that arrival of a new voice and leader is all the team needs for revival.
This week, it has been reported that New York City FC are close to finally hiring their new head coach after Dome Torrent resigned at the end of last season. Per Pablo Maurer, New York City FC are set to hire Ronny Deila, who is currently managing Valerenga in Norway’s first division. Per Maurer, it is ‘a matter of time before he’s [Deila] presented’. It seems, then, that this is going to happen.
For those who are not especially well-versed in European football, Deila’s most successful stint came as Celtic head coach between 2015 and 2017. He won two successive Scottish Premier League titles. Prior to that, he saved Stromsgodset from relegation in his first season and led them to the Norwegian title in 2010. At this point in his career, he was viewed as a bright young manager with a tremendous future.
Since that time, however, Deila’s career has stalled. He may have won two titles with Celtic, but they are the standout class of the SPL and won the domestic treble-treble under Brendan Rodgers (Neil Lennon was in charge for the final months of the third season) immediately after Deila resigned. Deila may have been very successful at Celtic, but there was almost no way he could fail. At Valerenga, Deila led the team to an eighth-placed finish after previously stating his aim was to finish in the top three.
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Is this most inspiring appointment that New York City FC could have made? Perhaps not. But given their struggles to convince anyone to either stay in town — Patrick Vieira and Torrent — or join this offseason — Giovanni van Bronkhorst — that they have any head coach in place is progress, however low that bar may be.
The looming problem for New York was the upcoming season — that should not be a problem, of course, but their mismanagement of the coaching search, perhaps as a result of being a part of the City Football Group that restricts their search somewhat, allied with being unable to convince any of the ambitious City Football Group coaches that Major League Soccer can be a step forward in their careers. We are now less than two months away from the first game of the year.
This is even more pertinent with the CONCACAF Champions League starting on February 21st. NYCFC have a squad capable of making a deep run in the competition, but they are at risk of squandering that without a head coach in place to direct the talent they do have and prepare them in preseason.
Is Deila the best manager that New York City FC could have hired? Perhaps not. But at least he is a manager. At this point, that, in and of itself, is major progress.