EAGLES boss Patrick Vieira has insisted he does not view Leeds boss Jesse Marsch as a rival ahead of tonight’s Premier League fixture between the two clubs.
Vieira and Marsch faced each other nine times when they were in charge of New York City and New York Red Bulls respectively, before they both took the decision to bid farewell to Major League Soccer in 2018 to move to Europe and are now subsequently together again in the English top flight.
Derby games between City and Red Bulls were fiery, with Vieira hitting out at Marsch for “crying” once – but tensions have simmered since they left the United States.
“It was the atmosphere around those games and the fans, but there was nothing really like a rivalry between Jesse and myself,” stressed Vieira.
“It is difficult for me to talk about him (personally). But as a manager, look at what he has achieved at Red Bulls, I think he did a fantastic job there. He is a manager who deserves respect and credit for what he achieved and for what he has been doing to get where he is now.”
Marsch’s appointment at the end of February sparked talk of Ted Lasso, the American in charge of a British team in a docuseries popular in the UK.
The new Leeds head coach admitted it does little to improve the perception of coaches from the States.
Vieira added: “It was the same before with the French managers or French players. Gerard Houllier came, Arsene (Wenger) came and did fantastically well and that gave credibility to the rest of the French managers and the players.
“It was the same when (Eric) Cantona came and (suddenly) French players can adapt to the league and that opened the door for the rest of us.
“I think when managers from abroad come into the league and do well, they show any manager can do well.”
Palace boss Vieira can empathise with Marsch over the scrutiny initially placed on the former Red Bulls chief when he replaced Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road.
Three wins from their last four games has quietened the external noise, which the Eagles manager also faced upon his appointment in the summer.
“I listened to it and it is something that doesn’t bother me,” Vieira commented of his detractors.
“I believe in myself and the people around me to support me and it’s about concentrating and focusing on what I want to do as a manager and a coach.
“The coaching team is massive, the support of the chairman (Steve Parish) and Dougie (Freedman) is massively important. There is a really good communication between the football club that allowed me to express myself as a manager.”
It has been a positive season for Palace given they recently enjoyed a trip to Wembley and have managed to stay well clear of the relegation zone despite this being termed as a transitional campaign.
With six games left, there are club targets to try to achieve but Vieira could also look to the future and try to blood some of his talented younger players.
Academy graduates Tayo Adaramola and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi are pushing for more minutes.
Vieira admitted: “We have a good idea of their potential.
“They spend a lot of time with the first team and played some games but we need to test them. ‘When’ is the question, but we need to see what they are capable of doing.
“Jes is a special talent and has the potential to perform at a high level but we need to create a pathway to take him to the next step. Maybe with us or on loan, but it is too early to make that decision.”
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