Pressure is a privilege for us: Jamshedpur FC head coach Aidy Boothroyd

Jamshedpur FC head coach Aidy Boothroyd is unfazed by the pressure of his side being Hero Indian Super League (ISL) League Winners as his team start afresh in the Hero ISL 2022-23 season. Jamshedpur FC will begin their new campaign against Odisha FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, in Jamshedpur, on Tuesday.

Boothroyd took charge from Owen Coyle in the summer after the Scotsman parted ways with the Red Miners following their League Shield triumph. Jamshedpur FC have let go of Greg Stewart, who won the Hero ISL 2021-22 Hero of the League, but have retained most of their players from last season alongside making some notable signings.

The new head coach is confident of his team replicating their performance from last season, as he looks forward to the return of the fans at the Furnace. Jamshedpur FC goalkeeper TP Rehenesh, who was also part of the press conference alongside the head coach, shared his views on the opening game against Odisha FC, playing in front of fans, and more.

Here are the excerpts from Boothroyd’s press conference:  

How big of a role will the home crowd play for the team this season?

I think it'll really help the players. I don't think the players realise that, but yes, we have trained here (in Jamshedpur FC) a few times earlier in preseason, I think when the crowds are in, for the opponents there, I think it's gonna be a really big occasion. We're all really excited and looking forward to it.

Thoughts on the team’s preparation in the pre-season?

It’s been brilliant. For any of the new players and the staff coming into the game, we've had a really good preseason without injuries. Everybody's happy and we are looking forward to the game.

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Apart from a lot of practice, what are the boys doing to keep themselves stress free?

Well, I think if you work hard and you follow the good practices and applications, we have found a way that we want to play. The team is, more or less, organised and ready.

In terms of stress, the harder you work, the more you can take stress out of it and I want all the players to enjoy themselves when they play. You really want to come in to train every day and be excited about matches, and I think we've got that. So hopefully that'll take a bit of the stress off. Pressure is a privilege for us. So we want to go out there to play football, to entertain, and to win, and that's what we're going to do.

How important are youngsters to the team?

I think it's important to have a team that's not full of older players. And it's important not to have a team that's full of young players. I think there's got to be a middle age group of players in the middle so that we have a nice balance between experience, energy, youth and exuberance and willingness to want to run and fight and play. Excellent football, that's what we want to play.

The squad has got some good experienced players. We've got experience and we've got young players that have joined us and also young players that have come through the academy. They have got a real chance of progressing and getting better and making us a better team.

Jamshedpur FC have gained a reputation for being a tough team to beat at The Furnace. How keen are you to continue that reputation?

What’s important is that we have to win away as well. Other teams might use it as an excuse for not doing very well. For us, we see our home being a Fortress. We want to make sure we continue our record in terms of wins and draws and we have to keep doing what we have been doing to make sure we get all the organisation behind the scenes right, which has so far been excellent. I’m really impressed with the support team (management) around the players and the staff. Everybody is going in a similar direction and when you got that, you got some real power. So I’m hoping we continue the good work that Owen (Coyle) did.  

Do you think there is additional pressure on the team to play in front of the home crowd after winning the Hero ISL League Winners Shield?

Pressure seems like a tense word, isn't it? We don't feel like that. We feel excited and ready. We’ve waited a long time and the club has waited a long time to get back in front of its fans. From everything that I have heard and what I have seen about the support from the fans, it’s massive. We’re all going to witness that. So bring it on. We’re all fit, ready to perform, and really excited about competing and testing our skills.

How confident are you that the team can replicate last season’s performance? 

I am confident. I have seen them on a day-to-day basis, 8-9 weeks now. I'm confident that we're ready as we can be and we got to emulate what we did last year. It is not going to be easy, it's gonna be tough. But I don't shy away from it, neither do the players or the staff.

We're all looking forward to seeing if we can emulate or do even better than last year. It's going to be difficult because the first three games of the season in the Hero ISL will be really exciting games.

What have your conversations with Owen Coyle been like and how has he helped you in this new role as Jamshedpur FC head coach?

It has been a really fruitful conversation. I’ve only had one conversation with him and that was before I came to the club. But Owen is a good guy, a terrific coach who has some amazing success with Jamshedpur FC. He was very helpful in getting me the job. Owen will be forever remembered in Jamshedpur FC history for what he has achieved. But now it's a new coach, a new dawn and a new era. We got to use that to our strengths to see if we can keep pushing and pushing to get better every time.

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Here are the excerpts from Rehenesh’s press conference:

Fans will be making a return after two seasons. What’s the excitement like among players?

We are really excited. We all know we will have a large fan base and they are going to play a massive role tomorrow. It’s going to help us and after two long seasons in the bio-bubble, it’s really exciting to see them turn up.

How is the team preparing for the game against Odisha FC?

Not only Odisha FC, the first game of every season is always tough. So we’re looking forward to the game and we have to be focused. We’ve been working really hard for the first game in the pre-season and like every other match, we’re going to put our best foot forward. 

How difficult was the bio-bubble and how do you deal with the pressure now outside the bubble?

For me, living in the bio-bubble was more difficult. The mental pressure was high, but for the team, the coach and the staff were really helpful. We had a lot of fun inside the bubble and had a lot of good times. That’s how we overcame that. This season, the coach (Boothroyd) has been really friendly with respect to the freedom we have. Of course, we are professionals and know what to do. It’s been a good experience so far. The pressure is less and what we have to focus on is what we do on the field and get a good result.

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