Patrick Vieira at Crystal Palace: What kind of manager do the Eagles have?

Patrick Vieira was sacked hours after Nice’s Europa League loss to Bayer Leverkusen – their fifth straight loss – in December

In 2017, Crystal Palace replaced one of the most experienced managers in Premier League history with someone who had never succeeded in England before.

Frank de Boer, Sam Allardyce’s replacement, was sacked after five games.

In 2021, Crystal Palace replaced one of the most experienced managers in Premier League history with someone who has never succeeded in England before.

So will Patrick Vieira do better than De Boer after replacing Roy Hodgson, 73?

Vieira, 45, has managed two teams to date – New York City in the United States and Nice in French Ligue 1. At one point, the legendary former Arsenal midfielder looked like he was prepared to be Manchester City’s next manager. Instead, his Premier League chance came at Selhurst Park.

How has Vieira’s managerial career gone so far?

Vieira has quite a bit of managerial experience in both jobs – 90 games with New York and 89 with Nice.

He left NYC by choice for the job in Nice but was sacked by the French side in December and hasn’t worked for a team since – he is currently an ITV expert at Euro 2020.

The Frenchman hasn’t won any trophies in charge of either team – but that’s hardly a prerequisite for a job at Crystal Palace, which hasn’t won any of English football’s current major trophies during its 116 year history, although they did lift the now defunct Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1991.

Vieira ended his playing career at Manchester City in 2011 – and began his coaching career there, first in a youth development role and then as manager of their reserve squad.

After four years, he went to manage New York City, a sister club to Manchester City. At this point he was heavily touted as a future Manchester City coach, perhaps taking over at the end of Guardiola’s three-year contract, with his stint in Major League Soccer almost seen as part of his roster.

Patrick Vieira

He won more regular season games in MLS than any other coach during his time in the United States, but his team lost in the playoff quarterfinals in their two full seasons in charge, including 7-0 overall against Toronto in 2016.

In May 2018, Guardiola extended his contract at City for an additional three years, which meant that job was not going to be available anytime soon.

On top of that, Vieira’s failure to make it through the first round of the playoffs with teams such as Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa cast doubts on his abilities.

Less than a month after Guardiola’s new contract, Vieira left the City team of football clubs to take charge of Nice in his native country.

Expectations were relatively low there, with an end in the first half of the main expectation – and they finished seventh in its first season in charge.

The following campaign was even better as they finished fifth, with the championship season being cut short after 28 games due to the Covid pandemic.

But he was sacked in the middle of season three after five straight defeats, with the club knocked out of the Europa League and 11th in Ligue 1.

At that time, only four Ligue 1 managers had won more games or gained more points than him.

Patrick Vieira
How Patrick Vieira compared to others who have managed 20 or more games in Ligue 1 during his two and a half years in Nice (28 managers in total)

He was known for his appealing style of football with NYC, but his time in Nice – a European club without the best players in the league – might be more relevant to Palace.

Some of the criticisms of his time in Nice included a lack of creativity, recruitment issues and the inability to find his best team and stick to it. It was reported that he lost the locker room and fans turned on him as well.

Vieira was part of an Arsenal takeover bid this summer, along with fellow Gunners legends Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp and Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek – but their offer was turned down.

He was on Newcastle’s shortlist in 2015 and 2019.

The World Cup winner – who was only Palace’s third choice at best after the failures of Nuno Espirito Santo and Lucien Favre – takes over a team in transition.

Eleven first-team player contracts expired this summer and only 18 players remain, some with long-term injuries or work permit issues.

Could English experience be key for Vieira?

Frank de Boer
Frank de Boer was called “worst manager in Premier League history” by José Mourinho in 2018

De Boer had no experience of English football when he took office at Palace in 2017. He was sacked after just five games, including four losses.

Vieira has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal and another FA Cup with City. He has been a member of the Professional Footballers Association Premier League Team of the Season seven times and was Player of the Year in 2001.

On top of that he trained in England with City and in his first interview as Palace manager he spoke of his enthusiasm for the “project” at Selhurst Park, including plans to develop the academy.

Another bright spot for Vieira against De Boer is that the Dutchman only lasted 14 games at Inter Milan – losing half of those games – during his previous management tenure, so he entered the club with a fairly low stock.

But De Boer did more as a manager, winning four straight Ajax titles from 2011 to 2014.

He also achieved something Vieira did not, winning a trophy in the United States. He won the 2019 US Open Cup, effectively their FA Cup, with Atlanta United after leaving Palace.

Palace will begin their Premier League campaign at Champions League-winning Chelsea on August 14, and Vieira’s return to Arsenal will take place on October 16.

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