Bryan Robson: Had offers from ISL

Robson had a feel of the artificial football pitch, named ‘Go The Distance’ pitch, laid on a base of recycled rubber at the Hiranandani Gardens, in Powai.

Former Manchester United captain, Bryan Robson at a promotional event in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  PTI

On Thursday, Manchester United’s longest serving captain, Bryan Robson, was in India, for a second time. He had been to the country a few years ago, as national coach attached to the Thailand side getting ready for the 2010 Asian Games. The former midfield ace, a Global Ambassador for the Premier League club, spoke on various issues, including calls from agents with coaching offers for the Indian Super League, at the Hiranandani Gardens in Powai.

“Two clubs got in touch with me through agents, asking me if I was interested in coaching an ISL team. My work with Man U meant I could not give them four months, so I did not follow up.” He added: “The ISL is known in England. Mikael Silvestre (ex-Chennaiyin FC player and former Man U striker) spoke about the crowds attending games and about his experience. Peter Reid (ex-Mumbai City FC head coach) is a good friend and coached a team last year.”

Silvestre and Reid were part of ISL 2015 and their respective clubs did not renew contracts next year. Dutchman Louis van Gaal (LVG as he is referred to) is facing the heat for below-par performance by Manchester United under his charge. ““For Louis van Gaal it is a case of rebuilding. He is working on strengthening the defence. I feel the basics are quite good in the squad under him. Manchester United needs to show more flair in the attack,” said Robson, credited with 99 goals in 491 appearances for the club.

Manchester United fans should show more patience, he felt. “It takes time to settle down when a new coach comes in. Alex Ferguson needed time before the team started winning. He removed some players, signed up new ones before things started happening,” said Robson, adding: “The midfield looks quite strong now, after LVG signed (Bastan) Schweinsteiger and (Ander) Herrera. Michael Carrick is there, the team has more attackers who push forward and also score.”

Robson had a feel of the artificial football pitch, named ‘Go The Distance’ pitch, laid on a base of recycled rubber at the Hiranandani Gardens, in Powai. Kicking the ball along a green patch amidst towering steel and concrete blocks, Robson felt the green patch in Mumbai was similar in appearance and feel to a mini-football pitch at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home base, similarly laid on recycled rubber base, made from used Apollo tyres.

Referring to the need for rubber base, he explained: “Artificial pitches were laid on a concrete and sand base earlier. Now rubber ball bearings are used in place of sand. It is safer for the players. The strain on the legs is less.” Twenty tonnes of rubber from used tyres, equivalent to 220 tyres, had been used.

Robson remarked: The one we have at Man U is bigger, but the rest is the same. In England we have good facilities to play football. Now kids here can use the pitch round the year, in warm weather or rain.”

Apollo Tyres tied up with Kick For All Academy for maintenance.

Youth from local communities will have access to the artificial pitch to hone football skills, informed Satish Sharma, President (Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa). He added: ““The pitch in Mumbai and the playground in Chennai, created using end-of-life tyres, is proof of our commitment to sustainability.”

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