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Patrick Vieira: "I think it takes humility"

On Thursday's media conference call, the gaffer dished on the Derby, Poku-to-Miami, and his special relationship with The Zlatan.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

"For us, it will be really important," Patrick Vieira said of Sunday's Hudson River Derby, "to control our emotion, and just try to concentrate on the way we want to play."

"I think in the first game we play against them, our emotions take over the game."

But despite the stinking specter of 7-0 hanging dreadfully low over the proceedings, the gaffer remained his typically calm, composed self on Thursday afternoon's media conference call.

"What I'm really pleased about where we are at the moment is that we're playing some really good football, and we concede less chances," he said of his NYCFC squad, winners of two games on the hop. "What I'm really pleased [with] is that tactically we are starting to see a team really well-organized, working really well for each other, and we are more compact and are more difficult to beat."

In terms of the Red Bulls, who have bossed New York City around in all four meetings to date, finding some way -- any way -- to be more difficult to beat this weekend will end up feeling something  like Christmas in the Five Boroughs.

"An offer that we could not refuse"

Yes, Vieira actually quoted The Godfather when asked about the deal, announced this week, that will send Kwadwo Poku to NASL's Miami FC for a hefty transfer fee widely reported to be around $750,000.

That's a hell of a lot better than letting the man decay on the bench, only to turn around and walk on a free.

"It will be good for us as a football club because we received an offer that we could not refuse, and both parts are happy, I would say," Vieira said. "Poku going there will be really great because he will be guaranteed to play every weekend. I'm really happy with the deal."

Vieira and Ibra: BFFs?

With blockbuster news of nuclear-powered center forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic making a summertime move to Jose Mourinho's Manchester United dominating the interwebs this week, Vieira made note of his friendship with the Big Swede, with whom he played in Serie A in the earlier 2000's.

Suffice to say, he's a fan.

"We've been in touch for a while, and we have a massive respect for one another. What I really like is his character," Vieira said. "He's a winner. He's a guy who can drive the team because of his character on the field."

"Look at [Mourinho and Pep Guardiola], look at Ibrahimovic. [Sergio] Aguero on one side, [David] Silva, [Wayne] Rooney; I think Manchester is the capital of football."

Iraola rock-n-rolla

I asked Vieira about the thought process behind moving veteran fullback Andoni Iraola to the deep midfield behind Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. (Interestingly, those three combine for 109 years of age.) What's making it work?

"I think what is important at this position is the experience, and how he's calm, composed on the ball, and making the simple decisions. In football, we all know that the simple decision sometimes is a more difficult one to make," he said of the Basque legend.

"What I really like about Andoni is that he's really calm, and tactically he's really improved the team, because sometimes having young players around this position is really good because they give you a little bit of field coverage, but at the same time you lose a little bit of tactical knowledge."

They say age comes before beauty, but for Patrick Vieira, calmness comes first.

After all, both Vieira and Iraola seem like the kind of guys who wouldn't even raise their voices if you stepped on their wingtips in a crowded theater.

Winning time

So, what's going to be different about this Derby, besides (in all likelihood) the scoreline?

First of all, it's the Red Bulls that are playing on short rest this time, having been bounced out of the US Open Cup in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

"We know what to expect. We will want to play and we are going to play from the back, because that's the way we've been working since the beginning of the season," Vieira insisted. "I think when we play against [them] the first game, what was really difficult for us is that we came out on a really difficult week, and this week we had all the time that we needed to really prepare this game, and Sunday we will be ready, we'll be ready physically, we'll be ready mentally."

"And it will be probably a different game."

Hmm. Wouldn't that be nice?

"I think the way we played against Seattle, I believe that we show a professionalism, because I think that game against Seattle was a really good team, professional performance, and I think it takes humility to have this type of performance," he said, "and that is the direction we need to take the game against the Red Bulls.

"We will have to be humble, we'll have to work hard, and we will have to work as a team, and I think if we manage to do that well, then we'll give ourselves a chance to win the game. Obviously it will be a difficult one,  but we have to make it really difficult for them."