If former New England Revolution head coach and Scottish international Steve Nicol is correct in his assessment, the New York Red Bulls have just hired the right man for their sporting director job.
Andy Roxburgh, hired by the Red Bulls last Friday as the club’s new sporting director, previously managed the Scottish national team and most recently served for 18 years as technical director of UEFA. He will oversee all soccer activities with the Red Bulls, including finding a new head coach and acquiring and releasing players.
“What Red Bull are getting is somebody who, amongst other things, has probably got every single sort of contact, not only in Europe, but in world football,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “Andy has been involved in UEFA and also the Scottish FA for probably 30-35 years. As far as contacts around the world for players, which I’m sure will be one of his main jobs, finding players, I don’t think there are too many that are as well connected as Andy is.”
Roxburgh has been tasked with rebuilding the Red Bulls after another disappointing season.
Nicol, who has known Roxburgh since 1986, when Roxburgh was named manager of the Scotland, admitted that Roxburgh’s transition into MLS may not be smooth at first. MLS’s single-entity structure, drafts, unique player regulations, and the rigors of vast travel schedules have tripped up more than a few previous European hires in MLS, including former Red Bulls sporting director Erik Solér, who struggled to get a firm grasp on how things worked. Soler was relieved of his duties this past October while the Red Bulls were still competing to make the playoffs.
“The biggest problem is working out the reasons behind some of the nuances and some of the rules,” Nicol said. “That’s the hardest thing to begin with. Just accept the rules for what they are and things are done a certain way because of the way the league is set up.
“The closer you accept that and then try and to manipulate them to help yourself, the sooner that transition will be easily overcome. … It’s like anything else. You know the boundaries, you know what you can push and what you have to leave alone.”
Still, Nicol — who has not been in touch with Roxburgh since his Red Bulls' hiring was announced — believes that if there is one person who can adapt on the fly and help New York become the premier soccer club in North America (as they have so adamantly stated), it is Roxburgh.
“Don’t kid yourself, there’s a lot of rules and regulations that UEFA have,” said Nicol. “He’s more than experienced in dealing with rule changes.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.