Last week, the Red Bulls announced that former Scotland manager and UEFA Technical Director Andy Roxburgh was joining the club as the team’s new Sporting Director. NewYorkRedBulls.com was able to catch up with Roxburgh recently, as he shared his views about the Red Bulls and his goals for the future.
NewYorkRedBulls.com: What are your thoughts about joining the Red Bulls?
Andy Roxburgh: It is a great honor to join the club. Major League Soccer’s reputation has grown quickly in world soccer over the past few years and the Red Bulls are at the heart of this progress. The club has a great infrastructure around it, a fantastic stadium and wonderful fans. I saw first hand the dedication of our supporters who turned out for both playoff matches despite the weather conditions. Their support was tremendous.
NYRB: What are your current expectations for the Red Bulls?
AR: As Gérard Houllier said earlier this month, we want to make the Red Bulls one of the best franchises in U.S. Soccer. To achieve our goal, we are looking to build a long-term structure that will ensure that we are competitive season after season. I’ll be taking stock of the current situation in the coming weeks and working with Gérard and the team here to set our priorities for the next season and beyond.
NYRB: As you know, the MLS has some unique elements that don’t exist in European leagues, so why join a club in the MLS?
AR: Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a league with a growing reputation. It’s also developing both in terms of interest and competition. You just need to look around the league to see the fantastic stadiums, the great fans and the high quality of play. It’s my aim to help the Red Bulls be a driving force in that continuing growth. There are obviously some differences in the way the MLS operates to what I’ve been used to in Europe, for example the draft, the salary cap, and designated players. So, I’m working hard with the team here to get up to speed as quickly as possible with the subtleties of the system. Interestingly, I was with all of the MLS Technical Directors only a few months ago as part of a MLS development program and we discussed a number of those unique elements of the league.
NYRB: Your previous job was as Technical Director of UEFA. What do you think that you can bring to the club?
AR: Clearly, as a former club player and coach, technical director – both at the Scottish FA and UEFA – and national team coach, I have many strings to my bow and I plan to draw on all of those experiences and the contacts that I’ve built up over my life in soccer. For example, I’ve been working with the top club coaches in Europe for the past 18 years and I’ve learned a great deal from them. My long-term goals here at the Red Bulls are to develop a winning mentality throughout the club, build a side that will play the game in the right manner, and continue to improve the current youth development structure that will produce the next generation of home-grown talent for the Red Bulls.
NYRB: What are your immediate plans for the first team?
AR: We’re working hard with Gérard and the rest of the staff here to prepare for next season. A new manager is clearly a priority following Hans’ departure - and I’d like to thank him for his work here at the Red Bulls. We’re currently exploring a number of different options both domestically and internationally on that front in order to find the best candidate. We are also in the process of analyzing the current team roster and seeing how we can improve it before the start of next season.
NYRB: And in the longer term?
AR: We’re working to create an organization that will be successful on the field of play in MLS but that will also continue to produce quality young players that we can bring into the League and who knows, maybe some will develop into U.S. National Team players.
NYRB: Any special message for the fans?
AR: I just want to reiterate how much the players and staff appreciated their support last season, particularly when they recently turned out in numbers following the extreme and disastrous weather conditions to support the team - that’s true commitment. I am aware of the history of this franchise and I’ll be trying my utmost to repay their loyalty and support by working with the team here to bring them the success on the pitch that their support deserves.