Thierry Henry will not be the only member of the New York Red Bulls in England this week.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke and sporting director Andy Roxburgh began on Sunday what will be a near-week-long trip overseas to talk with and observe some of the managers of the biggest clubs in the Premiership. The New York duo will meet with Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger of Arsenal,observing them as they run their respective training sessions. Petke and Roxburgh were also scheduled to meet Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, but he was dismissed on Monday morning.
The schedule for Petke and Roxburgh has them watching Spurs train on Monday, taking in Arsenal’s sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, attending Tottenham’s Capital One Cup match with West Ham United on Wednesday evening and observing Mourinho during his Chelsea practice on Thursday. It’s all part of an exercise for Red Bulls that Roxburgh said is meant to “refresh ideas” ahead of the 2014 MLS season.
“I’m very, very much looking forward to it, and let’s be realistic here, I have no thoughts of delusions of grandeur that in four days I’m going to come back and be a world class coach and be a whole new different person. Not at all,” Petke told reporters via a conference call. “This is something to get over there and if I could grab one thing from all three coaches or one thing total, that’s going to make me a better coach coming back here. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Aside from meeting with the Premiership managers, Petke and Roxburgh will also use their European excursion to chat with Henry (who has been spending his offseason in England) and Red Bulls head of global soccer Gerard Houllier. It will all serve as precious time for New York’s brass as they gear up for the new year, especially when considering Petke and Roxburgh will be side by side for the better part of a week.
“What we’re overlooking here is the amount of time I’m going to spend with Andy over there, getting a lot of work done with him after the practice sessions and over dinner and really sorting things out in an environment away from here,” said Petke, who already traveled to St. Lucia this offseason for a brief vacation. “We’re going to have one-on-one time exclusively, not having to run home to the family or other obligations or Red Bull. It’s going to be invaluable to me and I’m really looking forward to all that and also seeing Thierry a little bit over at Arsenal and getting to chat with him a little bit.”
Assistant coach Robin Fraser, who has been linked with the coaching vacancy at Real Salt Lake, also played a part in the offseason plan. Fraser was in England two weeks ago to spend several days with Roberto Martinez and Everton, and came back with rave reviews about the experience.
Roxburgh and Petke are hoping to do the same.
“It’s all part of refreshing our ideas, refreshing our thoughts. Not to copy anybody but to stimulate our thoughts in training and methods and so on,” said the well-connected Roxburgh. “I’ve worked a lot with Jose Mourinho and Andre, [they] were both trained in Scotland as coaches, and Arsene has worked with me in Scotland as well, so the Scottish connection is there. They’ve all worked with me at the Champions League meetings we’ve had with UEFA.
“Mike’s looking forward to us doing that and it’ll be an interesting exercise for us.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.