Patrick Vieira departs NYCFC to join French side OGC Nice

After weeks of rumors and reports, New York City FC made it official on Monday morning, announcing that head coach Patrick Vieira is leaving the club to join French side OGC Nice, effective immediately.

Assistant coach Christian Lattanzio, performance coach Kristian Wilson, and physical performance coach Matt Cook are also departing NYCFC to join Vieira’s staff at Nice. The club stated that “an announcement on a replacement head coach will be made in the very near future.”

“Having the opportunity to be a head coach in New York is something many dream of. Our incredibly passionate fans have made this one of the most special experiences I’ve had in football. Thank you to each and every one of you that stands by the team day in and day out,” said Vieira in a club release.

“From the fantastic staff in the front office, the outstanding sporting department lead by Claudio Reyna and the immensely talented players, New York City FC is a club with a wonderful future ahead of it – I will always be a fan and it will hold a special place in my heart.”

Vieira departs after two and a half years at the NYCFC helm, having led the team to two consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs – a dramatic turnaround from a painful 2015 inaugural season in which they finished in eighth place – and with his current squad sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.

It’s also the end of the Frenchman’s eight-year tenure with the City Football Group, dating back to when he arrived at Manchester City during the final stages of his playing career in 2010. He would go on to fill an ambassador role at the English club before beginning his coaching career as head of the Manchester City Elite Development Squad and eventually moving on to his MLS post.

“I would like to thank City Football Group and New York City FC for the opportunity to have coached this tremendous football club. Leaving New York is an incredibly difficult decision for me and for my family and one that has not been taken lightly,” said Vieira.

“From the beginning, City Football Group and its leadership, particularly our Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Brian Marwood, Ferran Soriano and Marty Edelman have believed in me and have helped guide me through the last eight years of my career – starting with my time as a player and ultimately culminating with my first opportunity to manage a first team.”

Vieira leaves MLS with a 39-22-22 overall record in league play, and a 1-3 mark in the postseason with no series won in two tries. He led the Cityzens to respectability and eventually, status among the league’s elite, but his teams continued to struggle in their NY Derby rivalry against the New York Red Bulls – albeit with marked improvement from their 0-3 mark against RBNY in their 2015 expansion season.

Under the Frenchman, who won the 1998 World Cup among myriad other honors during his playing days, NYC compiled a 3-3-1 record against the Red Bulls and won the 2017 season series. Yet their -9 goal differential in those seven games points to RBNY’s prominent routs like the 4-0 win earlier this year and the infamous 7-0 drubbing in 2016. The red side of Gotham also enjoyed a string of dominance over their rivals in U.S. Open Cup play, most recently winning their Fourth Round matchup 4-0 at Red Bull Arena last week.

Said NYCFC vice chairman Marty Edelman: “Patrick has been a fantastic role model at NYCFC and a true leader on and off the field. We know that leaving the club has been a difficult decision for him but we understand his choice to return to Europe where he spent his whole playing career.

“Patrick leaves us in great shape to continue our encouraging campaign and our goals for the season remain the same. We have the most talented and balanced roster of players since the club was formed. There has been a strategic and long-term approach to building a squad which Patrick has supported.”