This may be Patrick Vieira’s first job in coaching but he’s surrounded himself with some stellar experience in the City EDS dug-out.
Technical co-ordinator Christian Lattanzio has worked closely alongside some of football’s most decorated managers, including Fabio Capello during his tenure in the England hot-seat.
Originally brought into the City set-up by Brian Marwood in 2010, now Christian’s role is to support Patrick and the staff at Carrington and to help integrate the tactical, technical and mental elements into the squad’s training programmes.
“It is a great honour to work alongside somebody like Patrick, of course I’m very excited because I’ve known him now for a number of years and I know how passionate, caring and competent he is,” Lattanzio revealed.
“First and foremost he brings his wealth of experience which is not something that every professional player has – here we are talking about someone who is really great – he won the World Cup, he won the Euros, as well as a number of club titles with Arsenal, Juventus, Inter and Manchester City.
“I know how passionate and caring he is but also very determined, focused and driven – he has got all of the qualities needed to succeed in the role. He’s a very intelligent man who has worked at the very top level in Italy and England.
...Christian Lattanzio on Patrick Vieira...
“He will have his own style given by his personality but also he can dip into all of that experience he has as a player.
“The club is continuously improving - since I’ve been here there’s been progress in every department. Especially for the younger players, I think it’s important to have some continuity through these changes and hopefully I can bring that.”
Although he is regularly referred to as something of an expert in the field of football psychology, Christian is keen to dispel some oft-perpetuated myths surrounding the mental element of the game.
“I think there’s a misconception on psychology applied to sport – one of the main things is to give the players care, attention and to be detailed in our work,” Christian argues.
“It’s difficult at any club to make the step from youth football to the first-team but imagine being at Manchester City, the bar is set so high in terms of the quality and we see great players coming in again this summer with Navas and Fernandinho joining.
“For the boys, it’s difficult but it’s not impossible - psychology is important because the boys need to be driven and honed - the best way to work with them is to give everyone the same individual attention and to help players to recognise which areas they themselves need to work on.
“Once they become competent and confident in what they are doing, their self-belief increases.”
With an international roll-call of talent, which includes players from Italy, Spain and Romania, to name but a few countries, the multi-lingual Lattanzio is an important member of the coaching team, helping to knit these talented individuals into a cohesive unit.
Though he acknowledges the difficulties in moving to a new country at such a young age, Christian is also keen to point to the benefits of this scenario – for the foreign and homegrown talent alike.
“It’s potentially very rewarding to learn from each other and exchange the knowledge and experience they will have from where they’re from,” he said.
“Of course it is hard to move somewhere at such a young age but football is the most important thing in their lives and I know the club is very supportive of them and gives them the best chance to succeed in England.
“I think it’s great for them to be in an international environment, not just for those from abroad but for the English players, too.
“It gives them a new way of thinking about football, a chance to share ideas about a life in the game and honestly, the club has been great with giving them the best infrastructure as well as the staff who are there for the players in terms of advice and support.”
Joining Kristian Wilson and Simon Davies in Patrick’s team, Christian believes that City EDS are in good hands as they prepare for another Barclays u21 Premier League season and a third tilt at the NextGen Series.
“I worked with Kristian [Wilson] all last year and could appreciate how professional, how driven and how willing to improve he is,” Lattanzio smiled.
“He brings great enthusiasm, a great work ethic and he’s very good at what he does in terms of helping to improve the technical level of the players.
“While I haven’t worked with Simon very much, every time I have come across him I have always had great vibes because he’s very competent, enthusiastic and knowledgeable - he has great manners and I know that Brian Kidd thinks very highly of him.
“When I heard that Simon and Kristian were going to be part of the set-up with Patrick, I was very happy indeed and I’m looking forward to what the new season brings.”
We’ll have full coverage of the under-21s’ pre-season trip to Croatia starting on Wednesday here on mcfc.co.uk, with photos, interviews and features from Novigrad for the full 10 days.
In the next of our Meet Patrick's Team series, we catch up with EDS coach Kristian Wilson on Tuesday.