Roxburgh Remodeling: Red Bulls Sporting Director brings change to New York

Andy Roxburgh

Mere months from his 70th birthday, New York Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh is showing no signs of slowing down.

Roxburgh officially became part of the team in November. Prior to his official introduction as Director, he witnessed Red Bulls Global Director of Football Gerard Houllier cut ties with nearly a dozen players mere hours after the team’s playoff ouster against DC United (not exactly the most joyful introduction to the team).

“It’s not easy to start at first,” Roxburgh admits. “There are so many things flying around you with new players and a whole new environment.”

Since then, the former UEFA Technical Director has spent the last few months defining and carving out what it means exactly to be the Red Bulls Sporting Director.

“It depends what you mean by a Sporting Director,” Roxburgh explained. “In some places like England, it’s a guy between the board and the coach who helps him get players. In some places, a super scout; a guy that just goes out to find players.

“I don’t see it that way,” he continues. “My responsibility here is to be responsible for everything soccer – from the Academy and how the coaches train players or whether it is – staff, organization.”

To that end, Roxburgh began small with a series of basic moves on the front office level that set the tone for his regime. “That was my first priority; organizing staff, create staff and then try to get them on the same wavelength,” he recounted. “We did simple things like job descriptions for everybody. They never had that before! We did all that.”

From there, the organization began to trickle down to the touchline. It’s a task he takes a visible interest in. Unlike his predecessors, it is not a rare occurrence to see Roxburgh taking in a Red Bull practice or speaking to Petke on the sidelines while the team trains. Since he chose the Long Island native as team boss, Roxburgh has taken a vested interest in Petke’s development much as he did the careers of many managers in the UEFA system during his decade-plus time at the Technical helm.

While nurturing Petke’s development, he led the reformation of his technical support – from assistants to analysis.

“We have a very, very good staff. The support staff, analysis, logistics, the scouting – the scouting has improved dramatically,” a prideful Roxburgh explained. “We study every opponent properly. There is no looking at TV sets. We are at the games, we are studying them. The Cup match (against Reading United)? We have watched that team twice – that’s how professional we have become.

“The medical side of it is fantastic,” he continued. “The way the players are taking care of. They’ll tell you that. It’s spot on; as good as anywhere in Europe.”

While supporting and revamping the staff has been a focal point, the 69 year old Director is also leading a push towards technology, modernizing the team’s training capabilities as well.

“Right now, we have brought a new tool here – a three dimensional tool on training routines,” he explained. “We have dozens and dozens of training routines. Three dimensional and animated. I am now working with one of my former staff players on an IT tool they have developed at Glasgow Celtic where we can have all the data for the youth teams all the way to the first team.”

His work doesn’t end on the touchline and training efforts. In fact, the signing of Academy player Matt Miazga also had the Scottish bosses fingerprints all over it. According to Roxburgh, he has had an eye on Miazga since coming on board with the team. With the American Academy set-up, young players are easily pilfered by club’s throughout the world with no gain for the Red Bull’s investment. Roxburgh wants the team to be ahead of the curve by scouting their own ranks to award the next generation’s stars a shot at growing through the club.

Going on his seventh month with the team and firmly in the midst of his transformational agenda, Roxburgh looks back at his work with a sense of pride.

“The coaching staff are working hard and progressing everyday,” he says. “In Mike’s case, he is young and inexperienced – the first thing you have to say about Mike is his heart is here. That’s one of the first things I knew when I picked him. Also, I was on the pitch with him for a number of weeks before we made this decision. He is very structured, organized, he has the personality for it.

“He again is showing the potential and he is slowly but surely now getting to grips with MLS and with this job.”

“Right now, the staff, the whole staff from Mike all the way through the rest of them are doing a really good job for us here,” he continued. “They are all like me; they want to learn to be better all the time. That’s another element, very open minded, willing to develop and do more. There is no doubt that the run we have been on has been very good for the club. We bounced back from a bumpy start and we are pleased with that. We’ll keep it going.

“It’s evolving,” Roxburgh said of his duties, “but for me it’s entirely anything that links – whether it’s supporting the coaching staff, helping players, the education, the welfare of our young guys, anything that helps the soccer side – the personnel, the staff, the players, the club, we do that. That’s the idea.

“It is certainly not just a super scout.”

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