Switching roles — the way the professionals go

For the Indian internationals, attached with different franchises, there is a difficult adjustment to be made. National coach Stephen Constantine has his own ideas about using the skill-set of the selected players — which is usually very different from their role with their respective franchisees — for India’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

"(Stephen) Constantine (centre) llikes players who are fighters, who will give their 110 percent to the side," former India forward Abhishek Yadav says.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Newly appointed India captain, Arnab Mondal, has different guidelines to follow while donning the ATK and National colours.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

"The National coach has his own ideas about his team and players and there's nothing wrong with that," FC Pune City coach David Platt says.   -  ISL/ SPORTZPICS

Foreign coaches, attached with different Indian Super League clubs, have brought with them, their own thoughts and style of play. While, Atletico de Kolkata’s Antonio Habas believes in controlled attack, FC Goa — under Zico — let their offensive players express themselves with the ball in the rival half. Their six other counterparts, equally high profile, also have their own quirks and styles.

For the Indian internationals, attached with different franchises, there is a difficult adjustment to be made. National coach Stephen Constantine also has his own ideas about using the skill-set of the selected players — which is usually very different from their role with their respective franchisees — for India’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Newly appointed India captain, Arnab Mondal, has different guidelines to follow while donning the ATK and National colours. The availability of quality foreigners allows franchisee coaches the liberty to use the Indian players in their preferred positions, unlike Constantine.

Former England striker David Platt, now the head coach of FC Pune City, says adjustment is part of a football professional’s job and actually helps in the player’s development. FCPC’s Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh, integral players for Platt, have recently cemented their place in the National side. “I worked on defensive positions with Jackichand (Singh) and Eugeneson (Lyngdoh). Both, now, know what is expected from them when the team is without the ball. There is nothing right or wrong with what they are learning here. I am aware that the National coach may have planned different things for them. He has his own ideas about his team and players and there’s nothing wrong with that either,” the former Manchester City assistant coach says.

Platt, enjoying his first stint with an ISL franchise, adds: “When they are with the National team or at the club, they should understand what the coach wants. When they are with the Indian squad, they cannot stick to the Platt-way of play and say that ‘this is what our coach told us.’ As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing wrong or right here. Working under different coaches will make them better players.”

Former India captainBaichung Bhutia agrees with Platt. “For a smart player, switching from one coach to another should not be a problem. It happens all over the world, the club you sign up for might change the coach midseason. The same player can also be drafted into the National squad. India internationals need to adjust; this will only speed up their progress.”

Learning from their experiences in Season I, the teams this time are better prepared. They had highly-paid foreign coaches already on board before the players’ draft. The managers were consulted in the appointment of the support staff and had a role in selecting the place for pre-season training. “Franchises spend on coaches and take players to top class facilities. It can only help us in the long run when players face different coaching methods,” Bhutia says.

Former India forward Abhishek Yadav, who played as a defender for Mumbai City FC last season, says: “He (Constantine) likes players who are fighters, who will give their 110 percent to the side. Teams under him play aggressive, attacking football. Constantine is willing to try out newcomers, if he sees a youngster in a domestic league or competition; he is willing to take risk.”

Yadav, a central attacker for most of his professional life, played as a stopper-back in the ISL. “When not playing as a forward, I am comfortable playing a stopper. As a professional, you need to be ready to play two to three positions and also be able to play in different formations. When touring abroad, adjusting to climate and food is vital. Vietnam was my debut tournament for India under-23 (LG Cup 2002). Food was a problem, till I realised that there was no option but to take what was available.”

Bhutia and Yadav had scored in India U-23’s (coached by Constantine) 3-2 final victory over the Vietnam senior squad in that meet. After retirement, both went different ways. Bhutia is a technical consultant with Atletico de Kolkata, Yadav was part of Mumbai City FC in ISL season one, training and competing alongside German international Manuel Friedrich and French World Cup player Nicolas Anelka.

“Foreign players were very supportive, despite the difficult season we had. Manuel came here after playing for the German squad and the Bundesliga. He mixed with players readily and was approachable,” says Yadav. “Anelka is so creative and has such vision on the field that he reads your mind. There is no need for team-mates to ask for the ball when he is on the move, just run into space and he will pass the ball to you.”

Yadav, currently AIFF’s Director for Talent Scouting for different age groups, said the French playmaker’s appointment as player/manager will influence MCFC style. “Last year, our pre-season was very short. Head coach Peter Reid joined us too close to the ISL. He had no time to try out combinations. Having seen Anelka from close and knowing a bit about his style, expect a possession based, passing game from Mumbai City FC.”