Red Bulls, Roxburgh strive for some stability
By JIM HAGUE
HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Sporting director of the New York Red Bulls for just more than a week, Andy Roxburgh already knows what this good-but-not-great MLS franchise needs to get over the top.
And the former manager of the Scottish national team took it a step further on Tuesday, laying out the problem while also establishing a foundation for the solution.
"Stability is absolutely vital," said Roxburgh, 69, who met with the media for the first time at Red Bull Arena. "I know this franchise hasn't been as stable as it needs to be. We want to create stability, have a greater level of steadiness. We have a real desire to make this franchise one of the best in MLS.
"And to do that, we need to create stability."
That's certainly a good place to start. The Red Bulls, dating back to their days as the MetroStars, have gone through 13 coaches and will get another one soon, now that ownership has decided not to renew Hans Backe's contract after three seasons. There have been eight different general managers/sporting directors in that span, as well.
Clearly, it's been a revolving door.
Jerome de Bontin was brought in as general manager in September. One of his first moves was to hire Roxburgh.
"There's enormous potential here," Roxburgh said. "The MLS is growing and growing and I find that fascinating. This is a really interesting challenge."
Roxburgh is a former Scottish national player who once was a teammate of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. In fact, Roxburgh consulted Ferguson, who lives in New York during the offseason, before taking the job with the Red Bulls.
"I asked him and he thought it would be an interesting move for me," Roxburgh said. "He's come here to watch the Red Bulls play."
Roxburgh also spoke with Carlos Alberto Parreira, who coached the MetroStars in 1997.
"Carlos Alberto indicated that this was a place to go," Roxburgh said. "He offered encouragement and gave me some background about the franchise and MLS."
Roxburgh left his post as the first-ever technical director of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), a title he was given in 1994.
"I'm curious by all the subtleties of MLS," Roxburgh said. "I have to get more familiar with budget numbers and such. I understand the business plan here. There are certainly interesting aspects of it."
Roxburgh's first priority will be a new coach. He didn't criticize Backe, stating that "Hans did a good job and he's a good guy, but it's a natural break and we'll start again."
Roxburgh conducted two interviews for the position Monday and hopes to have someone in place before the end of the year.
"It could be an American," Roxburgh said. "We don't want to rush to judgment here. We want the best. Clearly, it would be an advantage if someone coaches in MLS. If the head coach isn't American, then one of the two assistants will be an American. We have enough quality American coaches and we know the importance of having an American coach.
"First of all, we're in America."
While Roxburgh has already conducted meetings with the returning players, he will not allow the team to influence his decision about a coach.
"We'll listen, sure," he said. "But when it comes down to it, we'll make the decision."
The Red Bulls already cut ties with 10 players after a season in which they went 16-9-9 and advanced to the postseason.
Updated November 20, 2012