Attacking approach

FC Pune City players (from left) Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zokora and Adrian Mutu with a team official at the jersey launch event in Phoenix Market City, Pune.-FC PUNE CITY FC Pune City players (from left) Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zokora and Adrian Mutu with a team official at the jersey launch event in Phoenix Market City, Pune.

Drafting foreigners with club experience in England for key positions makes it easy for new head coach David Platt, the former England international, to have a first team with players in tune with his outlook. By Nandakumar Marar.

FC Pune City, who changed their foreign players’ line-up, retained six Indians from last year’s squad, are poised to light up ISL 2015 with sparkling play, in keeping with the attacking approach which the new head coach David Platt is known for.

Drafting foreigners with club experience in England for key positions makes it easy for the former England international to have a first team with players in tune with his outlook. The Indians retained are forceful performers, with a record for consistency.

Romanian Adrian Mutu (Chelsea) heads the foreign signings, while the other new faces are Ivory Coast’s Didier Zakora (Tottenham Hotspur), Turkey’s Tuncay Sanli (Middlesbrough), Roger Johnson (Charlton Athletic), James Bailey (Barnsley) and Steve Simonson (Scottish team RanOgers).

FC PUNE CITY

High expectations are not new to Platt after his exploits as a foreign pro in Serie A at different clubs, notably Sampdoria and later Juventus, followed by a managerial stint as assistant coach of star-studded Manchester City, where ambition is matched by money splashed on big names.

Platt expressed delight at the impression the Indian players made during FC Pune’s pre-season training in Turkey, naming Israil Gurung, Gouramangi Singh and current India team members, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh, high on the list.

Gurung is one of six retained from ISL 2015, the others being Manish Maithani, Arindam Bhattacharya, Lenny Rodrigues, Pritam Kotal and Dharmaraj Ravanan.

Pune are tough rivals and hard to beat at home, but the attacking flair which was missing last season is supposed to be made up by the foreign additions, handpicked by the new coach from England. Starting the ISL 2015 with a home game in Balewadi complex against Mumbai City FC, Platt’s bunch of players have a dangerous look about them.

* * * DAVID PLATT'S VIEWS

The experience I have gained over the years is geared towards this - working with a diverse bunch of players and getting them to think along the same lines. We are working hard to go out and win the ISL, we are moving on this path.

The Indians bring good energy to the team, each one of them is out to do it. Though they may not be technically very sound, they have shown the willingness and enthusiasm to learn. Some of them can push the foreigners.

They are not nervous in expressing themselves on the pitch. This carries to the European players, pushing them to show quality. After every session with the group, the feeling within is such that I cannot praise them enough.

Gouramangi Singh is clean and professional in his outlook to the game. (Israil) Gurung is a different player from last season. Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh have quality, that is the reason why they are in the national squad.

We tried to do something different in pre-season. Players are professional, even European clubs go outside to train. The choice of venue is important. Gloria Sports Arena has superb facilities, it is well equipped and is at a different level.

NANDAKUMAR MARAR * * *

I FEEL TECHNICALLY BETTER NOW - ARINDAM BHATTACHARYA

FC PUNE CITY

Humidity in Antalya, where the Gloria Sports Arena is located, is similar to India during the ISL months. It will help us during competition. Everything was within walking distance, the gymnasium, the pool and the training grounds. Even the foreign players in our squad mentioned that training in such a good facility was new to them. Last year in Fiorentina, the team made a bus journey to reach the training base. I feel these two factors - climate and location - were different from the 2014 pre-season.

We are better prepared this time, after the pre-season training camp in Turkey. Manchester City used the same facility earlier. Massimo Battara, the former goalkeeping coach at Manchester City, was patient with us goalkeepers (Arindam, Lalit Thapa and Steven Simonsen are the three custodians in the squad). I feel technically better now and want to perform for my team. Last season I played 11 matches and am excited to be one of the six players retained. We were better than the final placing (sixth). We were third with two matches remaining but slipped down.

I, along with Lalit, the other Indian goalkeeper, spent hours after each ISL match was over, to work on specific points. Pietro Spinosa was the goalkeeping coach last year. With Battara's wealth of experience guiding us, we can only improve. Technically I can feel the difference, now it is up to the team to prove it on the ground.

AS TOLD TO NANDAKUMAR MARAR * * * THE SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Steve Simonsen, Arindam Bhattacharya and Lalit Thapa.

Defenders: Diego Colotto, Roger Johnson, Gouramangi Singh, Dharmaraj Rvanan, Pritam Kotal, Gurjinder Singh Kumar and Govin Singh.

Midfielders: Nicky Shorey, Didier Zokora, James Bailey, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Lenny Rodrigues, Bikash Jairu, Israil Gurung, Manish Maithani, Sushanth Matthew and Fanai Lalrempuia.

Strikers: Adrian Mutu, Tuncay Sanli, Yendrick Ruiz, Jackichand Singh, Kalu Uche and Wesley Verhoek.