NorthEast United FC head coach, Vincenzo Alberto Annese, said he was up for the challenge and that he thrives under pressure ahead of his side's meeting against FC Goa in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Saturday.

Annese, who was accompanied by forward Parthib Gogoi in the pre-match press conference, mentioned that believes in himself and wants to focus and think about what he can do in the upcoming games. 

Talking about Saturday’s opponent FC Goa, Annese mentioned that the Highlanders will show them respect, but said that his team will have a different approach and look to get points on the board. The 38-year-old further stated he is not focusing on their winless run this season and that he looks to get good results by the end of the season.

Here are the excerpts from Annese’s press conference:

How difficult is it to take over a team that has lost eight or nine games?

Annese: When I start training, I try to focus on the next game and improve our team with a different concept than the previous coach. In my career, I have always worked with clubs that have worked well, and I try to reach the best point.

I believe a lot in myself, and step by step, I will try to reach that point with the team. I do not care what people think if we have lost nine games, I just focus on the next game. This is an important part, and this is what I want from my team. Think about what we can do in the next game.

Heading into the next game, what will be your priority?

Annese: The important thing is to improve and get points. In my life, I have coached a lot, and I have seen many coaches who did not get points, but we need to get points, and I always see how to get points from the opponents. I am not scared of any opponent. FC Goa are an amazing team with a great style of play. They have got great technique, and we have seen players of amazing quality, and the brand of football is good.

We play in a different way, and our approach will be a bit different. There will be a different NorthEast United FC team on Saturday.

You have won the I-League twice, but how different is it in the Hero ISL as compared to the I-League?

Annese: I can explain this better at the end of the season. I love it myself, and I love coming from the I-League as well, but each season is important, and each team and coach are important with their strategies.

FC Goa likes to play possession-based football. We need to expect them the way they are and I respect the opponent, but we will approach Saturday’s game in a different way. I will try to analyse every game as it comes and every individual, study other coaches because we need to get (higher up) into the league faster if we want to forget the results.

So far in the league, we have been good, but it is not up to my standards, physically. We will reach that point step-by-step as I believe in the team.

You already have experience with different leagues, firstly in the I-League and now you have come to the Hero ISL. Do you think it brings pressure, or is it more beneficial for you to know how to get out of the box?

Annese: There was massive pressure, and I like to perform under pressure. I am doing this job because there is 80% pressure, and even if we had started from zero, I would have the same pressure from the first game to the end. It does not matter for me, I enjoy being under pressure.

How disappointing was it for you to lose 7-3 in the first game?

Annese: I do not see it as a disappointment but as an improvement because, as a club, we scored three goals. The mentality after the upset took a toll, most of the game we would find criticism but I look to improve the football day by day. Losing 7-0 or 7-3 is the same for me, and I like to read the comments from everybody, but we are just mentally processing it.

The job of turning the ship around — do you think you have the personnel? And how difficult do you think the planning in the January transfer window will be?

Annese: For me each team has quality in them, Chennaiyin FC has their quality. I do not see much difference club by club, and any team can beat anybody in the league.

We will show that things will change, and I do not want to be arrogant, but this is a process, and day by day we will improve. About the transfer window, I just want to focus on my players and the game.

Going into this game and having spent a week with the team, what were your first impressions of the team? What do you want the boys to pick up, especially emotionally?

Annese: We need aggression, we have too many nice guys and we need to attack. I love to attack and to create space to attack the opponent. I want my players to fight, and if we are too soft, it will be easy for the opponent. If we do not force them to make mistakes, it will be hard to get points.

In terms of the jobs you have had, where do you rate this challenge?

Annese: It is always hard. I am from Italy and one of the best clubs there is AC Milan and I always think that the club I coach I take it with my life and I believe in my teams and players. I do not complain and always look to get good results by the end of the season.

Here are the excerpts from Gogoi’s press conference:

This is your first season in the Hero ISL. Are you enjoying your stint here, and how different is it here?

Gogoi: This is my first season in the Hero ISL, and I am learning every day. This is the top league in India, and in the I-League there is less pressure while here it is a bit higher. 

NorthEast United have not done well this season. Does that add more pressure?

Gogoi: Every game is a new beginning, and we are trying our best to stay focused.