OWEN Coyle vowed yesterday to buck the trend of foreign managers failing to match the success-rate of imported players in the United States, as he took over at Houston Dynamo.
The Glaswegian was unveiled at press conference, squinting into the Texas sunshine after signing a three-year deal with the MLS club, to replace iconic predecessor Dominic Kinnear and become only the second manager in Dynamo’s short history.
Kinnear had been with the club it was founded in 2006, taking the Texans to two MLS Cup triumphs as well as losing twice in finals. The former US international has moved back to California, where he emigrated from Glasgow at the age of three, to take charge of San Jose Earthquakes.
While the MLS has a love-affair with foreign players, from David Beckham to Thierry Henry, the failure of foreign coaches in the past meant that just two of the 19 MLS sides did not have a North American in the job, until Coyle’s arrival made it a trio.
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The 48-year-old former St Johnstone, Burnley, Bolton Wanders and Wigan manager was announced yesterday by Houston president, Chris Canetti, as someone “of Irish descent, a native of Scotland, who comes to us from Manchester, England.”
And when Coyle was asked during the press conference if he was aware of the “stigma” among MLS owners about ‘foreign’ coaches, Glasgow’s most loquacious ‘Irishman’ insisted he would treat that as a mountain to be scaled. “I did not know that,” replied Coyle. “I see that as a huge challenge and if there a point to be proved, I hope I can do that.
“However, as I have shown in my career, regardless of what league you are in, if you can coach, you can coach. I know a lot about the MLS and the United States. I have been bringing my teams here for pre-season for the last seven years. The MLS is going to be one of the biggest leagues in world football and anybody in the game wants to be involved at a high level.
“MLS certainly is and I think it’ll continue to progress. For me, it was a fantastic challenge. I’ve watched MLS extensively, back home we get live feeds and highlights so I certainly know all the teams in the league.”
Coyle was an enthusiastic purchaser of American talent, buying Stuart Holden (from Houston) and Tim Ream, of New York Red Bulls, when he was Bolton manager. And he revealed that it was a special Glaswegian connection with the man he is replacing, Kinnear, that was pivotal to the trans-Atlantic business.
“I have known Dominic for a number of years,” Coyle told his Texan audience. “He came over to Bolton on trial for two weeks when I played for them, and myself and John McGinlay hit it off. I kept in touch with him and signed Stuart Holden from Dynamo on his advice.
“It’s a great honour to be only the second manager in Dynamo history. Dominic had them punching above their weight. I did not realise Houston was the fourth-largest city in the US but hopefully the people can help us grow as the MLS grows.”
Ironically, the only man in the dressing room whose accent Coyle would have easily understood, Andrew Driver, will not be part of the new era. The former Hearts winger has been transferred to DC United in Washington.
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