Vieira defends himself amid rumors of mutiny, players jump to his defense

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

A report released earlier this week suggested players had met on Monday to discuss “team matters” as relating to New York City FC boss Patrick Vieira.

By all indications, however, that does not seem to be the case, with several players speaking out to the media on Wednesday to debunk the report. Vieira joined in the discussion as well, standing by his lineup decisions — the apparent focus of the unrest — three days after NYCFC’s First Leg defeat.

“When I had to leave some players at home, it was a really difficult decision but that is part of my job” Vieira said. “Sometimes, I get it right and sometimes I don’t.”

Vieira went onto defend selecting goalkeeper Eirik Johansen and midfielder Mikey Lopez.

“When you look at the last few games Eirik played, I think he had a good game. When you look at the last call that I made with Mikey Lopez in midfield, I think Mikey had a good game as well. That is my job, I have to make a decision. You guys will have to question it because that is part of your job but at the end, my job is to make a decision.”

Vieira’s decision to field NYCFC in a 5-4-1 was heavily criticized as being too defensive and as an abandonment of the team’s principles. Among those criticisms came a single-sourced report from Big Apple Soccer claiming that nine players were “livid,” leading them to meet during an off-day to discuss the team’s direction.

Every player who spoke after training said that report was not true.

“The only discord was because we lost,” Lampard said. “Everyone was upset to lose. There’s no problem at all. You see us training today, we’re all together. I know there wasn’t any nonsense. That’s been made up.”

Frank Lampard said he’s not surprised to see Vieira make bold decisions since that was how he played. He added that while Vieira is a young manager, he still has the respect of his players and that their only frustration was with the result and the performance.

With this Sunday’s Second Leg, Vieira said the approach will have to change. City will have to make up the two-goal deficit while remaining compact and not allowing an away goal. Vieira also said he will choose the players who work the hardest but are composed in training this week.

As for last weekend, he has no regrets.

“I make the decision to choose players, to a different system and I think that is your job to tell me if I was right or wrong. And you judge by the result and I have a different perception of that. I think if I had to do it, I will make the same call again.”