Domènec Torrent was named New York City FC’s new Head Coach on Monday, replacing the departing Patrick Vieira, who called time on his two and a half year stay in New York.
To learn more about the new man in the Yankee Stadium technical area, we spoke to Olympian-turned-author Martí Perarnau, who has authored two bestselling books on Pep Guardiola, Pep Confidential and the follow-up, Pep Guardiola: The Evolution.
Granted all access for the Guardiola era at Bayern Munich, who better to tell us more about NYCFC’s third Head Coach?
NYCFC: What was your reaction to the news? Were you surprised at him leaving Pep to take up the role?
Martí Perarnau: I was a little surprised but not entirely. Domènec was a head coach 11 years ago and then left that to be the assistant to Pep for Barcelona, Bayern, and Manchester, but he has the mind and soul of a Head Coach. We were all conscious that he will one day up and leave Pep’s side and become a Head Coach for a great city like New York City. It was either going to be this year or next year so I’m not really that surprised. It was a destiny that seemed very evident for Domènec, to leave Pep and become a Head Coach.
NY: Pep once described Domènec as “the other half of him” – how important has Domènec been to the success at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City over the last 11 years?
MP: Domènec was really important in the success at Bayern and Manchester. At Barcelona, he wasn’t an assistant coach, he was more of a video analyst. But in Munich and Manchester, he was the assistant coach and just like Pep said, “his other half.” He’s been really important, even in the bad moments, during the losses, in Bayern or Manchester, Domènec has always been a stable person with a calm and peaceful attitude. He doesn’t let the pressure get to him and that’s how he has helped Pep so much. And then during the matches, Domènec has a great vision of the game and a huge capacity to understand what’s going on in the pitch, how to quickly see what’s happening and what solutions the team has to do to come back with a result.
NY: In your book, Pep credits Domènec with the idea to convert Phillip Lahm into a midfielder… he’s someone who thinks outside the box?
MP: He is definitely someone who thinks outside the box. What happened with Phillip Lahm showed how he has such a great understanding of the game. It was the final of the European Super Cup, Toni Kroos was playing as a midfielder, it wasn’t working out, so when Pep asked Domènec what they should do, what solution do they have, Domènec said he thinks Philip would do a better job in that position. Pep immediately made the decision for Phillip to play in the center and ever since then, Phillip Lahm has had a successful 3 years with a great career as a midfielder. Domènec has that ability where if he sees a problem or a weak spot, he tries hard to fix it.
NY: What is Domènec like as a man? What do the players think of him?
MP: He’s very similar to Pep. He’s very passionate, hard-working, and detail-oriented. He analyzes a lot of rival games to try to find even the smallest details. This season we have seen Manchester City score goals from the corner and free kicks, in which Domènec has been a key person in identifying the rival team’s moves and how Manchester can take advantage to score goals. Pep has publicly thanked him for being able to see those small details. He has a great understanding of the game and a great vision. On top of being a great coach, Domènec Torrent is also a really great person.
Domenec is a very kind person and as an assistant coach, he has always been very close to the players. He’s been like a dad to them. He has two kids, his oldest daughter is 23, so he’s always been like a dad. I think now it should be a different approach than it has been with Pep; he should keep a little bit of a distance and not be such best friends with the players now that he is a Head Coach.
NY: What do you see as Domènec’s main challenges coming to MLS from England?
MP: His first major challenge is leaving Pep. When you’re with Pep, you’re with one of the greatest coaches in the history of soccer worldwide and in that time, you’re next to someone who has a great vision for soccer, who’s successful, and who has a great capacity to make very important decisions. Domènec has been a perfect assistant, the perfect other half for Pep, but now he has to fly solo and change his mentality to that of a Head Coach. He’s going to a big city to a great team and he needs to adapt to a different style of soccer. He’ll have to learn the new style and now he has to be the leader, not the assistant to the leader, so he has a lot of challenges ahead of him.
NY: He brings a winning mentality?
MP: Domènec definitely has a winning mentality. He doesn’t want to lose a game and he’s very similar to Pep. I talked to him yesterday and he’s very excited. He’s not a very expressive person, he doesn’t really express his feelings. He’s very realistic and feels very motivated to win.