Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters FC announced the arrival of Swedish head coach Mikael Stahre at the end of May. The 48-year-old is all set to take charge of the team, replacing former head coach Ivan Vukomanovic who spent three seasons with the Blasters.

Stahre comes to India with a wealth of managerial experience over the last two decades around the globe. The Blasters’ vigorous, and passionate fans will hope for a remarkable season under Stahre’s stewardship as they look to win their first piece of silverware.

Recently, the club organised a live Instagram session with the head coach, hosted by Khuri Irani Khan, where they discussed some interesting aspects, including Stahre’s move to Kerala Blasters FC, his target for the next ISL season, and more.

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Here are the excerpts:

How was that first meeting with the Kerala Blasters FC owners? Tell us how you felt the first time you found out that there was interest from Kerala Blasters FC in India.

I joined the gym, and (then) one of my agents called me and told me that his partner had spoken to some club in India. And I said okay. And then he told me about Kerala Blasters FC, and I kept working at the gym. And then, a couple of days later, I spoke to the sporting director, Karolis (Skinkys) in a video meeting. It was a great meeting, and he invited me to London for an interview with the ownership. We had a really good chat for 3–4 hours, and that’s how it started.

What was that one thing that made you seal the deal—that made you say that’s my decision—I'm coming to India, I’m going to be the head coach of Kerala Blasters FC?

It’s the fans. (They’re) awesome. The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic. In my career, I’ve been coaching nice teams with a huge fanbase, so I’m really proud of that. Then, when I looked at the pictures and saw the atmosphere in the stadium, it was amazing actually. That’s (the) first time, (but there was) a tiny last part. Then, of course, (there was) the communication with the sporting director and the ownership about how they think, and they objected to the stuff.

What are your plans to start filling up the cabinet of Kerala Blasters FC?

First of all, we all have to be really humble and also see a little bit backward. Frankly speaking, the previous coach and the staff have been doing a great job, and there was a fine line between winning and losing. Obviously, with a couple of finals and hard defeats, it’s a tiny line. I think we have to carry on, but of course, change some things, but in general, the club is in a good mode. The owners are putting in a lot of money, the sporting director is working hard, and the fans are doing well. So, I mean that, hopefully, we can create some luck as well. To win the title, you need some luck. We have to work hard every day and bring good players, and they have to keep them fit. Then we have a chance to bring a title to the club.

What about the young players in the team, and how involved are you with the youths? And how much do you believe that the youth are actually the future?

The fanbase is the heart of the club, and then you also have academies to develop youngsters with the same values. Of course, it’s super important, and obviously, you can’t (only) bring foreigners. These are some rules regarding the foreigners’ spots. I’ve not been a professional player, and I came from the youth academy. For me, it's super important to carry young talents and give them a chance, and I’ve been quite famous in my country for giving chances to young players.

What is Mikael Stahre’s philosophy of football?

Winning. Everything is about to win. Of course, I understand that you are asking about technical and tactical things. For me, first of all, I’m the manager, which means that leadership and how I manage the players and the stuff are the main things. You can’t achieve anything without management and treating people well. I think that’s number one. Secondly, I like intensity. It’s not just the pace when you sprint without the ball. It’s also (about) how you react and respond to your teammates, how you look at each other, and how you communicate. You have to defend with your life and (should) have intensity while pressing. It’s super important to process the ball to control the game. But I want pace, pace, pace, intensity, and to try to play the ball forward. It can be played forward, (which) is way better than playing backward. Of course, we have to play sideways and backward sometimes to keep possession. But in general, we need intensity, and we want a vertical game.

Tell us what angers you the most. What coach Mikael just can’t handle?

Sloppiness. And, you know, if you always put in maximum effort and try your best every single day, and also in the game, you can't blame anyone. That's normal. Everyone fails sometimes. But if you're not focused, if you're sloppy, if you're lazy, if you're not prepared, then it's the coach's job to show them the right pathway. That's my job, along with the rest of the stuff. But you can’t be afraid if you play at a professional level and specifically in these kinds of clubs.

Tell us about your preseason because the Durand Cup, the Super Cup—all these cups are going to be equally important before the league actually starts. What are your plans for that?

First of all, we (will) have a camp in Thailand. We will travel on July 2, and everyone will join the camp by July 3. We will have around 20 days of preseason before playing in the Durand Cup. We will stay in Thailand for three weeks. And of course, after these kinds of long breaks, you need to build up your physical fitness, but at the same time, we don’t want to use the Cup (matches) like friendly games. We’ve planned three games in Thailand, and of course, we have to be careful, smart, and plan in a good way. The idea is to be fit enough, both physically and playing-wise. So, first of all, we can survive the group stage and go through, and then, of course, try to win the Cup; that’s crystal clear.

What will be your target for the upcoming season, and what will be your message to the fans?

I have a clear message from ownership and management. The club wants to win and give something back to the fans. We have to work every day and stay humble, but everything is about winning. We want trophies.

(To the fans) Keep going and keep supporting the team. Make it hard for the opponent to come to the stadium. Thank you for the warm welcome and incredible support. Keep going, and let’s create history together.