The pressure is part of our world – Patrick Vieira ready for Premier League bow

The former Arsenal midfielder learnt a lot under Arsene Wenger but promises to be his own man at Crystal Palace.

George Sessions
Friday 13 August 2021 22:30
Patrick Vieira is ready for the pressure managing in the Premier League will bring (Martin Rickett/PA)
Patrick Vieira is ready for the pressure managing in the Premier League will bring (Martin Rickett/PA)

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira insists he can cope with the pressure ahead of his managerial debut in the Premier League on Saturday.

Exactly 25 years to the day since he joined Arsenal in 1996, the former France international will make his bow in England’s top flight with a trip to Champions League winners Chelsea.

As a player, Vieira was one of the best in the Premier League and despite still being in the infancy of his coaching career, the former Gunners captain has had mixed success during spells with New York City and Nice.

“The pressure is part of our world as a manager I would say,” the new Eagles boss said.

“It is not going to be more on me than it can be on any other manager in the Premier League. I think when you step into the Premier League, you have to live with that pressure, you have to deal with those kind of pressures because of the expectation and the demand of the league.

“I knew how challenging it would be and I am ready for it. There is no doubt about what I can achieve as a manager and there is no doubt about what we can achieve as a club.”

There have been plenty of changes at Selhurst Park this summer, with Roy Hodgson stepping down after four years and a number of key players released while the likes of Marc Guehi, Joachim Andersen and Michael Olise have signed to trim the average age of the squad.

It is unquestionably a gamble for Palace to move away from the sure bet of Hodgson, who brought unmatched stability, but the fanbase were united behind the decision and enter this campaign with renewed optimism and excitement albeit the fact they have realistic views about the size of the task ahead.

Vieira added: “As a football club we thought it was the right time to do it. We had to do it. I think it’s the end of a cycle, I would say, and it is important to start a new one.

“When you make those decisions, it is not easy to make but I think the club has been really brave to make it. Now it is important for us to bring the right players and try to play good football and win matches.

“People have to recognise it was the right thing to do and the football club has been really brave to make that decision.”

With Hodgson and several senior players like Gary Cahill, Scott Dann and Andros Townsend gone, more reinforcements are needed, but Vieira has been pleased with the work of chairman Steve Parish and Dougie Freedman, Palace’s director of football, in the transfer market so far.

In addition to the need for another forward player, what is equally important is to keep hold of Wilfried Zaha, a huge reason behind why the Eagles are set for a ninth consecutive season in the top flight.

The Ivory Coast international is open about his desire to play in the Champions League but speculation around the attacker has been at a minimum compared since the long-winded saga at the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign.

“I think Wilfried has been a really good pro, a really good person as well,” Vieira insisted.

“He expressed himself about what he wanted to do. Myself and the club really respected what he had to say.

“But, at the same time, when he’s been in training every single day, he’s come in with a positive attitude, working really hard and we’ll see what will happen. I have nothing negative to say about the way he’s conducted himself.”

Another player to progress through the youth set-up at Selhurst Park officially left on Friday, with Brandon Pierrick signing for Danish side Velje having made three appearances for the first-team.

A key aspect of Vieira’s job at Palace will be to provide opportunities for the club’s talented youngsters, which matches the philosophy of his old Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who developed various stars during his two decades with the Gunners.

Spells under Wenger and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City bookended the playing career of the 45-year-old and he admitted: “I was really lucky that I was managed by some of the great managers around.

“But it’s important for me to manage the way that I see the game, not how the other coaches I had see the game.

“I had a good experience in Ligue 1, in the MLS and I know who I am as a manager and who I want to be and how I want the team to play.

“Being around those managers helped me to understand more about managing the squad, managing the games, the training and those details that will make me a better coach, but it’s important for me to be myself and implement the way I see the game.”

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