Coaches desire attacking football in upcoming season
Eight clubs have netted 460 goals at an average of 2.51 goals per match over 183 matches in the last three Hero Indian Super League seasons. And going by what was being said at this season's first ISL Media Day in Mumbai, the numbers are certain to increase. The head coaches who shared their thoughts at the event made it clear that they want their teams to express themselves and play attacking football. They also spoke of their desire to entertain the fans.
Kerala Blasters' assistant coach Thangboi Singto agreed that their head coach Rene Meulensteen would impart a lot of facets from his time as Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant, while new entrants Sergio Lobera (FC Goa), Ranko Popovic (FC Pune City) and John Gregory (Chennaiyin FC) made it evident that they’ll play to win as opposed to choosing a pragmatic system. Mumbai City FC's Alexandre Guimarães also weighed in and spoke about “trying some different styles" compared to last year's compact approach which made Mumbai table toppers. Bengaluru FC's Alberto Roca, on the other hand, has already showcased his ability to experiment in his stint with the Blues from the Hero I-League.
"I like my team to keep the ball, and bring it back when they lose it. I like quick passes and creative players and believe that the more you keep the ball, the less you have to run. I am steeped in the Barcelona style of football, so you can guess how my team will try to play," said Lobera, who was in-charge of Barcelona’s youth teams from 1997-2006.
Pune City's Serbian head coach Popovic was in a jovial mood in his first interaction with the Indian media and it seems that he wants his side to play in a similarly expressive and expansive manner.
"Football should be played to entertain. It should be played with joy. It should be attractive. Of course, you have to be smart within the limit of the result, so my team will also be ready to tackle hard and fight till the end according to the situation. But to ask my team to play in one way, and for them to execute it, is completely different. Let's take it one match at a time," the former centre-back said.
Hero ISL 2016's Golden Boot winner Marcelinho (Marcelo Leite Pereira), who has joined Pune City after his incredible performances for Delhi Dynamos last year (10 goals, 5 assists), was also present at the event.
"Football is happiness and we want to play with a lot of positivity," the Brazilian said.
If Pune's players can execute what their head coach envisions then their fans should brace themselves for some exciting and entertaining times ahead.
Another alteration in vision will be seen at Chennaiyin FC this season. The club will see a change after three years under the stewardship of FIFA World Cup winner Marco Materazzi. Their new manager John Gregory spoke about following in the footsteps of the Italian coach and wanting to prove that English managers will not necessarily play the stereotypical English way.
"The general opinion attached to English managers is that they will play the long ball. But I want my team to play proper football. There will be no shunting of the ball to the forward from behind. We want to keep the ball and play with style. We have the players to do that and Chennaiyin are a club that is associated with creating stars out of unknown players. So, there will be a few surprises this season as well," said Gregory, who has managed 10 clubs in an illustrious career that also saw him represent the Three Lions.
With the Hero ISL extending in duration in the upcoming season, all the coaches will have enough time to implement their philosophies. And if they manage to execute it, there will certainly be goals galore.