NYCFC’s Gary Mackay-Steven says supporters will connect with Ronny Deila
New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila had a two-year stint at Celtic FC amidst his 12 years as a professional manager. Deila mentored Scotland native Gary Mackay-Steven during both season at the Glasgow-based club.
Mackay-Steven and Deila have now reunited in the Bronx.
“He’s a really intense manager and he likes his teams to press a lot – 90 minutes of high intensity,” said Mackay-Steven, who NYCFC acquired last summer when he failed to re-sign with Scottish club Aberdeen. “We’ve done a lot of running and high intensity drills. I think he’s a perfect manager for the players we’ve got here.”
The 27-year old winger is also hoping Deila is the ideal choice for a surge in his personal minutes. Mackay-Steven played 12 matches with five starts last season under former coach Dome Torrent, who frequently tendered a team shape without natural wingers.
“My actual game is holding my width,” said Mackay-Steven, admitting he also had physical issues while attempting to adjust to a midseason arrival. “I struggled with it to be honest. The main thing is, it was hard to catch up to the fitness side of things, get your base. So, it’s night and day to be in now with the boys. Preseason is not too fun, but it’s beneficial in the long run.”
Mackay-Steven did not dress for the club’s opening exhibition match at the Florida Cup against Corinthians, but he started and earned a secondary assist on a headed goal from academy striker Osaze De Rosario during a 2-1 defeat to Palmeiras.
Deila set up the team in a 4-4-2 system – a favorable shape for Mackay-Steven — for both matches.
“I’ll play whatever the manager asks, but I want to show that I can play on the right or the left,” Mackay-Steven said. “I think the manager can play with different tactics, whether that be 4-4-2 or other tactics. We’ve worked on a few different ones already, so I think it’s just down to the personnel.”
Outside of his individual concerns, Mackay-Steven believes New York City will profit with a coach who fosters a culture of communication.
“His door’s always open,” Mackay-Steven said. “He’s open and honest with everyone. He’s open to explaining his points of view. He’s a really good people person, whether soccer related or not.”
Deila is also a man of his word.
Prior to his period at Celtic FC, Deila managed Strømsgodset in his native Norway. Before the 2009 season kicked off, Deila told the supporters he would strip if the club avoided relegation. Strømsgodset remained in the top tier and Deila disrobed in the home finale.
“He didn’t do anything quite like that at Celtic, but he loved to celebrate victories with the supporters,” Mackay-Steven said. “He sees the benefits of a crowd being behind the team. Kind of using the crowd to the advantage of the team and kind of harnessing that. He’s brilliant at doing that.”