Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh is learning just how different Major League Soccer is from the world of European football.
“If you’re in London trying to pick a coach from the UK, clearly that’s easier,” Roxburgh said. It is a revealing comment airing publicly what was previously assumed – the Red Bulls want a European presence at their helm. “Here, you’ve got to consider things like visas, family getting moved, culture, language. There are all sorts of elements in it.
“Yes, it’s been a very interesting process.’’
As the Red Bulls go on Day 72 without a manager, the 69 year old Roxburgh will be donning a track suit and assisting Interim Coach Mike Petke in the team’s first training sessions out of Bradenton, Florida today.
His credentials for the job are unmatched; he spent 18 years as UEFA Technical Director. That isn’t the point. If you turn back the clock to November, this can’t be the place he envisioned himself being when he took on the job. 39 days from First Kick, the team is scrambling for answers, though publicly, the message is patience.
“We’ve been talking to a number of people, a lot with really interesting backgrounds and we’re still in discussions,” Roxburgh told reporters. “We appreciate the fans’ patience, but we don’t want to rush to judgment here. There will be an announcement soon about it.”
The message of patience is accompanied with the tantalizing prospect of having this TBD head coach surrounded by domestic staff to help guide the ship. Red Bull fans have been vocal about the idea of giving an American manager or an MLS veteran a shot at commanding the club. Names like Eric Wynalda, Steve Nichol, Tony Meola and Mike Petke have all been advocated for.
Roxburgh’s proclamation allows for at least part of that vision to become a reality.
“The one thing I’m making sure, that we put an American core in the backroom area,” said Roxburgh. “The people who have with us who know the league – not only played in it, but know the league – from a technical perspective. That’s very important.”
An announcement of assistant coaches is expected to be made within the next 48 hours. Until then, the team heads into preseason training without a boss.
“Right now, we’re well organized with a great backroom staff and we’re well organized to start preseason training (Tuesday),” Roxburgh said. “Obviously, we’ll be trying to do everything to settle the coaching situation very quickly. We have been trying to do that, of course, with lengthy discussions but right now we’re focused on getting away (to Florida).”