By Arthur James O'Dea
Rarely have the goings-on in the United Soccer League garnered such interest among an Irish audience. Yet, as Jim McGuinness prepares to complete his transition across the codes and take up a managerial position with Charlotte Independence, the far-flung world of American soccer’s second-flight will be afforded unprecedented attention.
From guiding Donegal to only their second All-Ireland triumph in 2012, McGuinness will now attempt to lead the North Carolina club into the heady heights of Major League Soccer. With an admittedly limited amount of soccer experience to his name, the Donegal man has already built up a clear idea of how he’d like his sides to perform.
“We’re going to need a certain sort of player to implement the philosophy,” McGuinness explained in conversation with Off the Ball.
“They’ll have to be a certain type of athlete as well. So recruitment will be very important, and attitude.
“I don’t want to be saying too much, but I think it will be aggressive, dynamic and attack-minded as well. The capacity to press and put teams under pressure will be important.”
Having already experienced something of professional football in Glasgow and Beijing, the move to America unquestionably came as something of a surprise when news of McGuinness’ appointment appeared.
Revealing that Pádraig Smith, the Irish-born General Manager of the Colorado Rapids, had put him in touch with Charlotte Independence, McGuinness cited the influence of the Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers when it came to deciding on the move.
“I spoke with Brendan Rodgers at once stage when I came back [from China],” McGuinness stated.
“His words were ringing in my ear when he said, ‘it’s not about getting a club, it’s about getting the right club.’
“So, when I spoke with Charlotte I just got this feeling that this is the right club for me at this stage of my development, in terms of the level that they’re at and the ambition at the club.”
Undertaking the tentative first steps in football management, interest will abound as to whether ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches’ will soon require an American release date.