Exclusive: Non-negotiables with Patrick Vieira - "Discipline breeds respect, organisation & togetherness"

We sat down with the Crystal Palace manager to discuss the key coaching values and philosophies he won’t compromise on and how they influence his management style.

By Callum Davis Published: 17 October 2022 - 4.29pm

It was billed as the impossible job. 

Take an ageing squad, carefully moulded in the image of the league's longest-serving manager, Roy Hodgson, and breathe new life into the club. Fortunately for Crystal Palace, Patrick Vieira has history in achieving the impossible.

Now, over a year into his Selhurst Park reign, Vieira is widely regarded as one of the Premier League's foremost up and coming managers.

Against the odds, the former Arsenal captain has transformed Palace's playing style and established the club as one of the most exciting young teams in the top flight.

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As the Eagles look to soar up the table, Vieira has revealed all in an exclusive interview with BT Sport, delving deeper into his key philosophies, values and what he expects from his players.

How important is work ethic for you?

Hard work is one of the core values of this football club.

I’ve said this is one of my non-negotiables but it’s the bare minimum I expect.

I should never have to question my players on that side of the game.

From a personal point of view, has hard work long been an important value for you?

That is the way I grew up. It’s something that has always been a big part of me, that was my talent!

I wasn’t the most skilful player or the most technical, but I had determination and the work ethic to succeed and become the player I was.

Players have different qualities that enable them to maximise their potential and mine was passion and hard work.

Now I am a coach, it is something I still have.

Patrick Vieira and Wilfried Zaha

Following on from Roy Hodgson must have been difficult but you’ve transformed the team in a short space of time. How hard was it to get commitment buy in for your vision?

It was really easy, honestly.

I have a group of players here that have been at the club for years and they have been fantastic in the way they have absorbed new ideas and committed to the project on and off the field.

That makes my job easy.

“The foundation of any human relationship is to treat people like you would like to be treated.”
- Patrick Vieira

What does commitment look like for you in every day life?

Commitment to me is about dedication to your job, the football club and your teammates.

Commitment is about making the necessary sacrifices to maximise your potential. Are you doing the right things every day to maximise your potential and I think, today, players have all the tools they need to make the most out of their talent and play even longer.

My job is to make them understand there are things you need to do every day to maximise that potential and play that extra couple of years longer.

Let's talk about togetherness, as a new manager with lots of new players, how difficult was it to create a team spirit?

Winning helps. Playing well helps. But the togetherness is something the players create with the honesty they have every day.

I think what this football club did really well was they didn’t just buy good players, they bought good people.

When you have intelligent, honest people in your dressing room automatically you will create togetherness.

After that, my job is to maintain that togetherness by being honest and fair with them.

But I believe we have to fight against society to keep that togetherness.

What I mean by that is, you can lose it very quickly because football players do not speak together any more, they are on their mobiles even more often and players don’t spend time together off the training ground.

Patrick Vieira and Arsene Wenger

You have to fight against all those small things to maintain the team spirit and togertheness.

It was different for my generation because we were spending more time together off the field than players do today.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why you tend to see more individual players rather than players focussed on the collective.

But the fact this football club has managed to stay in the Premier League for so many years shows we have this kind of collective and it’s crucial we don’t lose it.

How important is it for you to be approachable as a leader? Is developing trust important?

I think it’s very important because it’s the foundation of any basic human relationship to treat people like you would like to be treated.

Of course I need respect from the players but to do that I need to respect them and show that respect by being honest and fair.

That is what this football club is about. Crystal Palace is a small, close-knit club where everyone knows each other’s name.

I am a big believer in being in the right place at the right time and I believe I am at the right club for me  – it is a really human, family-orientated football club and I feel at home here.