ISL: Pune City coach Brown averts anger over delayed payments

Phil Brown took charge in an off-the-field situation over delayed payment to the FC Pune City players, which he realised had distracted the team's focus away from football against Delhi Dynamos last week.

FC Pune City coach Phil Brown thanks the supporters.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

FC Pune City, last season's semifinalist, survived a mini-crisis over players’ frustrations with the team management ahead of the side's final Indian Super League league tie against Mumbai City FC at the Balewadi stadium.

Phil Brown, the chief coach, took charge in an off-the-field situation over delayed payment to the players which he realised had distracted the team's focus away from football during the penultimate tie against Delhi Dynamos FC last week.

READ | Pune City ends campaign with 2-1 win over Mumbai City

Sensing the mood within after the loss to Delhi, the Englishman asked for a total commitment from the players against Mumbai City. Pune City players and the coach are contracted till the Super Cup (April 2019) and any missteps in the ISL final phase would affect Super Cup preparations.

The Stallions avenged an away loss to Mumbai City earlier in the league by winning 2-1 on Saturday.


Brown explained: “I have not faced this (situation) as manager or coach before, but football is in this situation at the moment. There is a financial issue not just in India, in every country. I know the directors are doing everything they can to resolve off-the-field issues. They have addressed the players on a number of occasions.”

The Englishman is Pune City’s second coach this season, following the sacking of Miguel Angel Portugal from Spain after a disappointing start to the ISL season. Assistant coach Pradyum Reddy was in charge for the interim period before Brown was signed. Pune City's performances under the Indian and since the former took change have been impressive, finishing with 22 points after six wins in 18 league games.

He added: “All that a working man expects is financial return. When that financial return does not come, it shows how much devotion these players bring to the match and to football. It has been a very difficult time and the respect I have for these players is immense. I sat in front of them two or three occasions and asked for what I give to them. I give everything (for the team) and want that in return (from them).”

Pune City, co-owned by the Rajesh Wadhwan Group, was supposed to be in merger talks with Mumbai City from last season as a solution to the cost of running an ISL franchise. Media speculation about the franchise shifting to a new city also surfaced.

FC Pune City picked up three wins in six matches since Phil Brown took charge in January. PHOTO: ISL/SPORTZPICS   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS


“There are outside thoughts (in players’ minds) about what has been paid and what has not (been paid). Some of these stories are unfounded. We performed professionally in adversity,” said the coach, delighted at the energy on the home pitch.

The anxiety and anger within the squad, over financial issues at the end of a long, hard ISL season was doused with the franchise making payments over two days before the team walked out to face Mumbai City.

Before leaving for home to enjoy a break and returning to prepare for the Super Cup, Brown said: “One defeat in six games and one bad day for me in 55 days. I have enjoyed every day here, except the Delhi Dynamos game. The honesty shown by the players (in the win over Mumbai), I tip my hat to them. I will reward them if we make the later stages of the Super Cup.”

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