(Reuters) - Scottish manager Owen Coyle, who takes charge of Houston Dynamo this season, believes that with the right approach there is no reason why a foreign manager can’t succeed in Major League Soccer.
Some high-profile foreign flops, including Dutchmen Ruud Gullit and Aron Winter, have added to the perception that a coach must “know the league” to win in MLS.
“Of course there are rules and intricacies - but there are rules in every league and when all is said and done it is eleven versus eleven,” Coyle told Reuters in an interview.
“The game is the same game. If you come in with your eyes open and be respectful of what is going on then you get to understand it.”
With ‘designated players,’ a transfer system unlike any other, a salary cap and collective bargaining agreement, MLS can be baffling for a newcomer from abroad.
Understandably, the complexities of MLS have led most clubs to entrust their head coaching jobs to Americans, often former players in the league, and avoid foreign coaches.
Coyle has been busy learning the rules, helped by Houston’s experienced backroom staff.
He believes it is worth investing the time in adjusting to MLS’s sometimes Byzantine rules because he sees the league as one that is growing rapidly into a force within the game.
The former striker visited the United States on pre-season trips while in charge of Burnley and Bolton Wanderers and said he sensed that MLS was on the cusp of a breakthrough.
“I could see that in a few years time that it is going to be one of the big leagues in the world. It is really on the up and up,” said Coyle. “You look at the facilities, the stadiums, they could grace any of the top leagues in the world.”
The Glasgow-born Coyle has spent most of his managerial career in Lancashire where he took Burnley to the Premier League but had a tougher time with Bolton and Wigan Athletic.
Regarded as a strong motivator, Coyle also prides himself on building a connection between a community and the team.
“I was fortunate that with the teams I played with, outwith of the natural team spirit, there was always that feeling of an old-fashioned community,” said Coyle. “I grew up in the Gorbals in Glasgow, a community area where everyone was helping everyone, I think a club should be like that, it should be a family, it should be part of the community.”
“As with at my other clubs, I want the supporters to look and think ‘I have a team that will give everything it has got to entertain and to win the game.’ We want to build a winning team, but one that is pleasing on the eye as well.”
The first major signing Houston made since appointing Coyle was Mexican international striker Erick Torres and the Scotsman is excited about getting the 22-year-old into his team, when he completes his move after the end of the Liga MX season in July.
A natural goal scorer, Torres could also help the Dynamo appeal further to the large Mexican community in Houston.
“The main reason for signing him is that he is such a talented footballer,” said Coyle. “But the fact that he is also a very nice and humble young man, a Mexican international, there is a huge market in Houston that he will appeal to as well.”
There is a genuine enthusiasm about the way Coyle talks about the challenge he faces at Houston and little sign that his swagger has been affected by the setbacks at Bolton and Wigan.
“I am as hungry now as I was at the start to be successful. Having had some success, I want more of it. So it is up to us now, to put something in place, that has longevity and that will serve this club for years to come.”
Reporting By Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue