Are you happy with the performance today, they showed good fighting spirit lot of character, came back strongly. And for the first match, are you happy with the show of the boys?
Namaste. Its been a very turbulent 48 hours, obviously with the departure of Rene and me coming in, the timing of all the contractual issues, not being able to take the training session and then having to put the team together. I've got to thank all the coaches involved because I had to trust the judgement on picking the same. First half was very difficult, FC Pune City showed their quality, they scored the goal and then all of a sudden it was a different conversation at halftime. I think it is obvious to say that we needed a bit more pace and more of injection in the second half, we did that, and settling with a point, I am really happy in a situation that perhaps on another day we will win the game. Pune top the league now and we played that well in the second half with the best team in the league so lots and lots of positives from the team and for me as a manager, I'm back in the position with a happy team and players.
And the crowd used to love you a lot!
Oh, I love the crowd as well! It has been a long while since I'd gotten an opportunity to sample the crowd. In the first half it was obvious to see that when we did something positive crowd was on it. In the second half, I can see the fans singing way all the in the stadium, so it seems like they were happy with what they saw. It encourages me as a manager because I joined the club on the basis that we have a good squad capable of winning this because it's only why we are here and then the second half definitely showed me the talent is in there. We made substitutions who came on and were very positive. We had players who wanted to soldier on even when there was a slight problem, probably not so many injuries, but talking except about Rino, there are so many positives to take from this. We have a 6-day break now, leaving it to the next game against Delhi Dynamos and now gives us an opportunity to get on the training field, improve the little areas which have caused few problems. Perhaps I'll watch so many games of football between this competition we need to start winning games.
Hi coach, you took off Dimitar Berbatov at halftime, was that completely a tactical decision or were there any concerns regarding his fitness, considering he has come back from a long layoff? If that is the case did his fitness effect Kerala’s game in midfield?
No! Again, the problem that I have got is Kerizon Kizito came on in the second half I have seen 5 minutes of footage in the preseason of Kez, it's not like I've been able to see him playing. So the decision was made from the 5 minutes of footage from Spain in the preseason and his relationship with Courage Pekuson was positive. I had to make that decision because in the first half if anything we were suffocating ourselves and we needed to change the pace. We were 1-0 down and the opposition doesn’t mind you suffocating, obviously. In the second half, we had that pace, we had that quality, the response from the players and most importantly, the encouraging thing for me is that I was giving instructions on the side and they were heard and dealt with. So we know we have got a good squad. Now we have to win games to prove that we are a good squad and I am looking forward to it.
James, as you said, the second half was completely different from the first half. Was there a magical pep talk you gave if you mind sharing something about that?
It’s a secret (laughs). As I say, I have seen footages of the team and it is very difficult, you know, we have got wonderful coverage around the world of the Indian Super League, it is a world league now. People can see it from anywhere. The difficulty is that you're not there, you can't see the players off the field and the first half for me was a learning situation because I haven’t trained with them. So, I was making instructions and wondering whether or not the response was going to be the right one. So, halftime was more refreshing because I was telling them what to do on the pitch and it is quite often the players coming up and asking for the further instructions. I think for all coaches involved this has been a very difficult situation. Very very difficult for them as I was saying, no proper preparation for the match. And in the second half at halftime the conversation was good, so they responded, and I am happy, but I can’t say that I plan to be happy with the one draw but from what I have seen I am very happy.
So far Kerala has just one win. What have we been missing from this team considering that you told that this is a very good squad? And what do you plan on changing?
I go back and give it a replay myself but the difficulty for me watching from afar is that I can't see the whole game. I see what the TV shows me and, for instance, I have got players in front of me and the ball is on the other side of the pitch I can't talk to now I can't see what they are doing in the vide. So we will look at the training, in training improving opportunities, but we had opportunities in the second half. There were some lovely interlink play and some great crosses, there was so much positivity from what I had seen and now it is more case of tweaking and we have got a big squad and players who haven’t played so far, we just welcome them and the way I look at the second season here as a manager, is not to worry about, first of all, me not playing games. I think that was probably was a distraction in the first season. Now it is just me getting players ready. My conversation is purely about players and not so much about myself, so I can’t tell you exactly what we are going to do now. I need to see the video of this game again. I think the concern was the few opportunities in the first half, we conceded and were consistent with opportunities. So, for me as a manager and my coaching staff, the whole emphasis is to make the players better. If we do this then as you see the second half as it is, then we shouldn’t have a worry.
Also, your goalkeeper Subhasish Roy did some good saves.
Ya, he is a very good goalkeeper. I have to say one of the challenges any coaches have in the league is whether or not to put a foreign goalkeeper or a home national goalkeeper. I have not had a problem putting Roy, I know he is a good goalkeeper, I know Paul is a good goalkeeper, I have got Sandip Nandy, but I'm not quite sure if he is going to play the next game but the point being is I didn't have a problem there. My concern, as you could see, what’s going to go on in the outfield and fortunately, as I said, we have got the quality in the team and we can make changes in the halftime. We made those positive changes and now the manager and coaches' issue is to make sure that the starting 11 against Delhi is the right team to go and win a game of football. So, it’s a good position to be in.
David, first of all, welcome back. You said you haven’t seen much of the team..
No, I have seen them. but have not been watching the feeds in funny countries to watch the game. So, I have to say first of all I didn't follow Kerala with an interest in managing them, I followed them because my experience here in season one was so good that they are my team.
But what I wanted to ask you is two players you did know well from earlier on are Sandesh Jhingan as well as Wes Brown. Now being the center backs as well I could see you constantly beckoning one of them especially when you had a free kick or and so on forth passing a message through them. How important was the role of those two in the field of on-field marshaling, basically?
Sandesh is the team captain. In the absence, in the three years that I have not been in India, he is in the national team that came from 170th to 104th in the FIFA rankings, he is a part of that. He is one of the players as the captain has to take the responsibility as you would expect the difficulty to go back to the fact that we have not had any training sessions. So especially the first half a lot of things are of the captain, but you are asking for instructions hoping that you get that response. What I did like about Sandesh was he came over and we had an opportunity to make the communication clear and they dealt with it. And as I said we go to the training ground and we try on improving these little areas to make everything a little bit tighter and that's it.
We are not even halfway to the season and in your first season you had the opportunity to pick your players , you brought in all the players and this time it's like it's a given, apart from Kezito, I believe, who is a new guy and then like everyone has started from the season and there is a kind of talk among the fans that all the foreign players are quite aged and they are not as competitive as the other foreign players as the other teams. Humey is past 30, 38 for Wes Brown, 36 for Berbatov. So are you happy and you seem to say that one of the conditions for you to come back is that you had a winning squad. Are you happy with what you have?
I might be a fan of Kerala blasters, but I am not stupid and if I thought the squad wasn’t good enough I don’t mean to come and join a team which isn’t going to do anything. So, the quality is there, and I have got more criticism than anyone who was in charge before. So, managers have their own take on the game, how thing are going to become and most importantly I have given the opportunity through conversation that happened in last 48 hours but giving the opportunity for the coach to help the players improve themselves. As I said, we have got 6 days now to prepare the same there will be players training tomorrow who weren’t involved. They where happy with the changes coming in the game so at the moment I have got a nice group of players who are happy, and it is the best thing a coach can ask for and I think they are receptive and have good communication because that’s what I have seen with the players on the field. The difficulty remains that the coaches have to remain positive and correct so that they can go on and fulfill their potential to win games of football. We should have won today. Football is like that, you don’t always get what you should get but I am happy.
Hi, will you be adding any players to the squad since the window is open now? Will you be adding any Indian players?
Why would I add? I have a simple rule in my life, if the coach or the manager gets changed then the one that comes in should improve the players that he has got. It's too easy to try and bring in new players, but I am happy with the squad I have got. I like what I've got. The ones I haven't seen play, I will see them train. And believe me, I would be pushing to get inside and bring best out of them with no intention to bring in an extra player.
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