Anelka: Might have to bench myself

Nicolas Anelka is likely to spend more time prowling around the dugout than on the turf in Mumbai City FC’s games than ever before. Facing dual responsibility as marquee player/coach, he is beginning to realise that his presence on the pitch is actually affecting team performance.

Mumbai City FC player-manager Nicolas Anelka is yet to score or assist in his six appearances this season.   -  H Vibhu

Nicolas Anelka is likely to spend more time prowling around the dugout than on the turf in Mumbai City FC’s games than ever before. Facing dual responsibility as marquee player/coach, he is beginning to realise that his presence on the pitch is actually affecting team performance.

The Frenchman is the third high-profile name in ISL season two to be entrusted by team management with twin functions (apart from Chennaiyin FC’s Marco Materazzi and Delhi Dynamos FC’s Roberto Carlos). Anelka is different in the sense that he wants to play as much as fitness permits, the other two sensibly took a step back from playing to guide teams from the bench.

Replying to a query about Mumbai City losing steam in ISL 2015 each time Nicolas Anelka the striker steps on the turf, he remarked, “I think it is that stage where I have to focus more on coaching than playing. When I did not play, Mumbai were doing pretty good. I might have to bench myself.”

He said it was unfair to compare his role with Materazzi or Carlos, both World Cuppers like him with experience to influence outcome of matches. “It is different when you play as a striker. In defence you can control the game as you see everything from behind. For me, I have to look at the attack and also organise the defence.”