October 27, 2013
THE RIGHT MAN AT THE RIGHT TIME
Roxburgh builds a Supporters Shield winning side with experience, patience
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Andy Roxburgh: “I didn't really think that far ahead. The idea at the beginning was to assemble the best squad we could. There was a lot we had to do from the scouting to the coaching to the squad and the whole thing. There's a lot of things to it."
Photo by Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls have had some big names at the helm of the franchise over the years, from high ranking officials in U.S. Soccer to former MLS executives of the year to former national team stars along with high-profile business executives and even European soccer gurus. But it took a 70-year-old Scotsman with no previous ties to the league or the team to finally deliver the club its first trophy in franchise history.
In Andy Roxburgh, the Red Bulls have a pragmatic leader with patience. He guided head coach Mike Petke in his first year on the sidelines and spent countless hours after training with the team's young players, feeding balls and working on their skills.
But while the franchise has suffered for 18 years through a string of bad bosses and no major trophies, Roxburgh, the sporting director, said he wasn't preoccupied with getting hardware. Instead, he wanted to help build a culture where there was none. He wanted to build consistency where there had been only upheaval. And he wanted to bring a club's mentality where things had only ever been transient in the past.
“I didn't really think that far ahead. The idea at the beginning was to assemble the best squad we could. There was a lot we had to do from the scouting to the coaching to the squad and the whole thing. There's a lot of things to it. Mike has done a fantastic job and the players have been fantastic. But there's a lot of people behind the scene have had a part. There's a lot of people from our groundsmen to our backup staff to our medical staff – there are so many elements to it,” Roxburgh told BigAppleSoccer.com in an exclusive interview after the club won the Supporters Shield.
“We're very lucky to put together a club, I feel like it. That's so important, more than signing any new players.”
When he was interviewed for the job last year, Roxburgh had a meeting with Head of Global Soccer for Red Bull Gerard Houllier. In that meeting, Houllier underscored that the franchise had never won a trophy – and that something had to change.
This despite the fact that Houllier was just a couple of months into the job.
“That was obviously our target, we're glad to have something tangible,” Roxburgh said. “But now there's the playoffs and that's the focus. The mentality here is next. That's exactly what we'll be doing. Enjoy the night, but look ahead. Always look ahead.”
In that case, with the Supporters Shield the squad is now qualified for next year's CONCACAF Champions League.
“OK, not that far ahead,” Roxburgh said with a smile. “Let's enjoy this one first and see what's next.”