From Oslo to New York

Norwegian Ronny Deila hired as New York City FC head coach

Ronny Deila

Photo courtesy of NYCFC
New New York City FC coach Ronny Deila directs practice. The former Vålerenga coach will make his Major League Soccer debut March 1 at Columbus, Ohio, with the home debut at Yankee Stadium on March 21 against Dallas.

Jo Christian Weldingh

Ronny Deila leaves Norwegian club Vålerenga (Oslo) in favor of Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club. The 44-year-old from Telemark signed a new contract with Vålerenga as late as December 2019, but when NYCFC offered him the chance, he didn’t hesitate.

“I would like to thank Vålerenga for three rich years,” Deila said in an official press release. “I have met many fantastic people. We were supposed to continue working together, but last Christmas, I got another opportunity. When we now have reached an agreement, I feel this is an opportunity I can’t miss.”

“We’re extremely happy to have Ronny join us,” Brad Sims, NYCFC CEO, told Dagbladet. “After a comprehensive search, we’re now 100% sure we’ve found the right man for the job!”

Deila, one of the biggest coaching names in Norwegian soccer, has coached Vålerenga since late 2016, over three full seasons, but the club has never lived up to its full potential under his management, placing eighth, sixth, and 10th, respectively.

After a decent career as a player, most notably in Norwegian clubs Odd, Viking, and Strømsgodset, Deila took the role as head coach for Strømsgodset in 2008. After only two seasons with the club, he won his first trophy when Strømsgodset won the Norwegian Cup in 2010. Then, in 2013 he won the club’s first league title since 1970, an incredible feat that attracted the interest of Scottish champions Celtic FC.

He left Strømsgodset for Celtic FC in 2014 and won back-to-back league titles, as you’re expected to when you’re a Celtics manager, and one cup title, but failed to take the club into the Champions League, a failure that was the main reason he lost his job after two seasons and three titles in Scotland.

Deila, who’s stated coaching philosophy is that he trains people not players, is known for his attacking playing style and extroverted personality. At Celtic, Deila’s post-victory celebration, a routine of fist pumping to the crowd to rouse the supporters, was eventually named “The Ronny Roar” by both the media and the fans.

Ronny Deila

Photo courtesy of NYCFC
Former Vålerenga coach Ronny Deila shows off the jersey of his new team, New York City FC, which finished first in the Eastern Conference and second overall in Major League Soccer last season. He has an attacking philosophy and has some top players back in forwards Héber Araújo dos Santos (15G-4A), Valentín Castellanos (11-7), Alexandru Mitriță (12-3), and MF Maximiliano Moralez (7-20).

“As a coach, I like to play attacking soccer,” Deila told VG when asked about his tactical plans for his new club. “We want to have possession of the ball as much as possible, but we will try to be direct when we get the right opportunities.”

New York City FC has been without a head coach since mid-November, when former Barcelona, Bayern München, and Manchester City assistant Domènec Torrent left the club. The club is only five years old and has yet to claim any titles but have improved steadily from season to season. They placed second in the overall league last year and have reached the conference semifinals four years running. Plenty of attackers return in forwards Héber Araújo dos Santos (15G-4A), Valentín Castellanos (11-7), Alexandru Mitriță (12-3) and MF Maximiliano Moralez (7-20).

When NYCFC faces off against the Columbus Crew on March 1 in Ohio in their first regular-season game (the home opener is against Dallas on March 21), the New York fans might get the chance to see the “Ronny Roar” for themselves.

This article originally appeared in the February 21, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.