ISL: A new-look ATK all set for the new-look league

To completely change the team’s flavour and its playing style in order to make a fresh beginning is never easy. ATK, however, not only parted ways with Atletico de Madrid but also shed its strong Spanish flavour and opted for the English style of football.

Dream Team...Principal owner Sanjiv Goenka is flanked by manager Teddy Sheringham (left) and captain Robie Keane.   -  PTI

Coinciding with the expansion of the Indian Super League in Season Four, two-time champion ATK has subtly transformed itself to face the challenges in the new-look league.

To completely change the team’s flavour and its playing style in order to make a fresh beginning is never easy. ATK, however, not only parted ways with Atletico de Madrid but also shed its strong Spanish flavour, and opted for the English style of football.

While making these changes, ATK never deviated from the philosophy of its principal owner and well-known business tycoon Sanjiv Goenka — to always emerge a winner. The hiring of English football legend Teddy Sheringham, technical director Ashley Westwood and captain Robbie Keane only underlines the Kolkata outfit’s purposeful and aggressive approach.

Past performances

2016: Matches played: 14; Goals scored: 16; Top scorer: Iain Hume (seven); Result: Champion.

2015: Matches played: 14; Goals scored: 26; Top scorer: Iain Hume (11); Results: Reached semifinals.

2014: Matches played: 14; Goals scored: 16; Top scorer: Fikru (five); Result: Champion.

When ATK was formed ahead of the inaugural ISL season in 2014, it had roped in former India cricket captain and part-owner Sourav Ganguly to attract crowds. However, after it had tasted success, ATK did not have to toil much to form a fan base in the football crazy Kolkata, which also has century-old iconic clubs such as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal with a huge fan-following.

ATK never lagged in recruiting big names. In the inaugural season, with the guidance of the Spanish duo of coach Antonio Lopez Habas and marquee player and former UEFA Champions League winner Luis Garcia, it beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 in the final to claim the title.

CAPTAIN SPEAKS:  'Looking for a different experience'

In 2015, ATK had Portuguese international and forward Helder Postiga and Canadian forward Iain Hume in its ranks. Its campaign, though, ended in the play-offs after losing to Chennaiyin FC 4-2 on aggregate.

In Season Three, another Spaniard, a former Villarreal manager, Jose Molina took charge of ATK and the team defeated Kerala Blasters again, via the tie-breaker, to lift its second ISL trophy.

CELEBRITY SPEAK

Agnimitra Paul (Fashion designer):

“ATK has always been performing well. Since I am from Kolkata, and the ATK team is also from Kolkata, there is no other team I can follow. They have changed the coach this year. Hopefully, they do well with the present set-up.

"I designed the jersey and logo of Jamshedpur FC. So now it will be difficult for me to pick one team when ATK and Jamshedpur play each other. May the best team win.

"I will go and watch one or two matches. In the FIFA Under-17 World Cup the quality of football was very high. The quality of football in the ISL has to match that standard.

"The ISL will now be played over five months. If the quality of football becomes better, then that is the ultimate thing.”

 

  Dugout videos