Phil Brown shows what Pune missed all along
Phil Brown is never short of confidence. The English coach had a four-year stint with England’s top-tier side Hull City and five years at Swindon Town, but when he landed in India to take charge of FC Pune City, he had just six matches to prove himself.
In all probability, Pune signed him for the next season. Last year’s semi-finalists made a poor start to their campaign this time around and were found lagging behind, despite interim coach Pradyum Reddy guiding them to a mini-revival of sorts.
Whatever effort anybody puts in, it would have never been enough to miraculously take them to the top four, but three games since taking charge, Brown has shown what Pune were missing all along.
"I want the players to help me get a contract at FC Pune City and continue my adventure in the Hero ISL. To say that I have come for only six games is a negative approach. But I have confidence in my ability to achieve something here," Brown had said earlier.
What Brown has achieved so far is remarkable. The Englishman started off his campaign by leading Pune to their first-ever win against Chennaiyin FC. That impressive feat was followed by a come-from-behind draw against ATK with Robin Singh grabbing a late equaliser. The growing confidence in the team was palpable after these two results and it is a credit to Brown and his management that a 4-1 away victory over top-four hopefuls Jamshedpur FC did not really come as a surprise.
The manner in which the Stallions dismantled Jamshedpur in their own backyard was nothing short of impressive with Carlos Calvo’s 75th-minute penalty proving to be the only consolation for the hosts on the night. The fact that it was the first home defeat of the season for Cesar Ferrando and his men tells you all you need to know about the magnitude of Pune’s victory.
"As a coach, when you go into a club, you take over a problem. I don’t think I inherited a big problem. I inherited a team that had won two games. When you inherit such a team, you have to understand the league. Secondly, I had four weeks to work with this group of players. That was my moment as a coach," said Brown.
Pune’s approach to matches now has been completely different to what we witnessed earlier in the season, particularly at the start when Miguel Angel Portugal was the man in charge. Pune have now proved to be as good as anyone else, but despite Brown’s impact, it just maybe too late for them to make it to the play-offs.
Pune have 18 points from 15 matches and can reach a maximum of 27 points, the same as NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC, both of whom are placed third and fourth respectively. A point for both the teams will rule Pune out, and then there are Jamshedpur FC and ATK ahead of them.
Despite the slimmest of odds, Brown is unlikely to allow his side to take their foot off the accelerator. The players are enjoying themselves again, leaving everyone to wonder what would have been if Brown had joined earlier in the season?