Petr Kratky Unfiltered: Mumbai City FC's new head coach talks talent, transition, and targets
The Czech-Australian head coach will begin his Islanders tenure with a tough trip to FC Goa.
A new dawn has set in Mumbai City FC with the Islanders welcoming their head coach Petr Kratky after the departure of Des Buckingham last month. Beginning a new chapter midway through the campaign is never an easy task but significant thought has gone behind in Kratky’s appointment, with the tactician switching to the Indian Super League (ISL) from the assistant coach role that he held in City Football Group (CFG) owned Melbourne City FC in Australia.
The 42-year-old, who had a 15-year-long playing career across major Czech clubs like Mlada Boleslav and Slovan Liberec, believes that the several stars who have come into the ISL from the A-League gives him a greater sense of familiarity regarding what to expect in India. He is confident of helping the Islanders achieve their objectives this season, which includes retaining the ISL League Winners Shield. On a personal front, the promotion from the role of assistant to the head coach excites him as well as his family.
“ISL is very similar to the A-League. Obviously, a lot of A-League players play in the ISL. Few foreigners, some of the very good ones are a part of the competition along with Indian players who play for the national team. So, it’s a very good standard, it’s growing, and it will be even better in the future,” Kratky says.
He adds, “I was excited when the opportunity came up. I was happy to come over and start working. It’s a good step up for me and my family, and the quality of the players makes me more excited because I can continue doing the good work being done here.”
“Every opportunity to coach makes you better. The experience from doing things makes us learn a lot. The ISL is a really good opportunity for me to learn a lot of new things, the way we want to play, the City way, so it’s always beneficial for me personally to get better. The learning should never stop. “We are in the City Football Group, so the way we play is very similar. With just the adjustment of the country and cultures, it is very important to understand your players. I am friends with Des Buckingham and we discussed some small details and he gave me a handover. I am understanding how everything should work and it looks really, really good,” Kratky says.
An inter-group appointment will perhaps make the transition as smooth as possible for the ISL outfit, and for Kratky, this assignment is all about overcoming the sudden challenge that has come his way. He has done his homework in the last few days, drawing parallels between the ISL and the A-League, and insisting that the high-quality players in the Mumbai City FC ranks will make his job easier in the Indian top-tier.
“It’s always a step up. When I started coaching, all I wanted to do is to be ready when the opportunities came. Now, I feel ready for the job. It’s different. It’s a new opportunity, I have to improve myself and work hard. Time will tell. Hopefully, we win and everything feels good. The talent in the squad, from what research I have done and seeing the boys now, it’s really, really good, all of them, even the young ones. I hope I can help all of them improve and perform to the best of their abilities and levels,” Kartky says in an interaction with the league.
CFG is perhaps banking on Kratky’s long association with them to help him deliver the results at Mumbai. The head coach had initially joined CFG as a volunteer in 2017, before taking up a coaching position within the City Academy in 2018. In 2017, he worked with the development side of Melbourne City FC and worked up the ladder to become their assistant coach after Buckingham left them to join Mumbai City FC in 2021. Interestingly, as fate would have had it, Kratky now follows the footsteps of Buckingham into the ISL this time around. Common workplaces mean that they are known to each other, and Kratky has shared a conversation with the Oxford United FC boss to help his initiation into Indian football.
Kratky hails from Czech Republic though he spent the final part of his playing career and the whole of his coaching spell so far in Australia. Several Czech players such as Jan Štohanz (Mumbai City FC), Pavel Čmovš (Mumbai City FC), Jan Šeda (FC Goa), Tomáš Josl (NorthEast United FC) amongst others have had stints in the ISL previously, and the new Mumbai City FC head coach claims to have studied their profiles and times in the ISL to get a better perspective of what the league is all about.
“Some players from my country Czech Republic used to play here, so I did my research from a coaching point of view and from a players’ point of view too. It’s a good, competitive league, players want to work hard, there’s a high quality present here, so it’s a really good environment for me to go to and learn a lot,” he signs off.