French Ligue 1, Leagues, Nice, Story

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Patrick Vieira hopes to be “a mix” of former bosses Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger as the new Nice coach prepares for his first season in charge of a European club.

During his playing career, Vieira established himself as one of the world’s foremost midfielders during nearly a decade at Arsenal under Wenger while he later played for Mourinho at Inter Milan.

After hanging up his boots in 2011, the ex-France international began his coaching career with Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad and then at New York City FC before deciding to succeed Lucien Favre at Nice where he hopes to blend the best qualities of his ex-managers.

“Arsene gave us quite a lot of freedom and Mourinho went more into detail about opponents, what he saw in the players, unlike Arsene, whose philosophy was different,” Vieira told L’Equipe.

“It’s important to give information to the players to try and play a good game, but at the same time, you have to give them that freedom to be able to express themselves. There was more giving of responsibility with Arsene. A mix of the two would be very good.”

Vieira revealed he had spent time with Pep Guardiola, Maurizio Sarri and Jorge Sampaoli while developing his own approach to club management, and said he had recently asked former international teammates Zinedine Zidane and Laurent Blanc about the difficulties they had faced in swapping the pitch for the dugout.

Vieira has already come up against one in Mario Balotelli.

After two successful seasons at Nice, the Italy forward has failed to begin preseason training under Vieira as he awaits a reported move to Marseille to be finalised.

“I’m surprised yes, disappointed yes, because I think Mario has had two really good years at Nice. It’s a shame that it’s finishing like this. If a player wants to leave, that’s one thing, but it was important for him to come, be present, respect his contract and let the two clubs talk and find a way to finalise all of that,” Vieira told RMC.

“Players make the decision to go to certain clubs. You have to accept that, that’s football. But in any case, Nice has to come out of this well by getting what they deserve. It’s important to respect the club and do things as well as possible.”

To that end, Vieira had some words of advice for the French Football Federation (FFF) as they prepare for Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal with Belgium.

Sitting alongside opposing coach Roberto Martinez in St. Petersburg will be Vieira’s former Arsenal and France teammate Thierry Henry, now making his own way as a coach as part of Belgium’s backroom staff.

“It’ll be bizarre to see Thierry Henry coaching Belgium,” said Vieira  of France’s all-time leading goalscorer. “We have to think about it and ask ourselves the right questions. How can an iconic player like him be with Belgium? It’s a shame for French football.”

He added: “We have to ask ourselves the right questions to not have a great player with another big football nation in the future. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if there were offers from the Federation or if it was Thierry Henry’s choice by default. We have to think it over well so that it doesn’t happen again.”

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