Relying on English expertise

New master... FC Pune City will depend on Englishman David Platt to guide the club to ISL glory.-GETTY IMAGES

David Platt, Roberto Mancini’s assistant at Manchester City, will be at the helm of FC Pune City in ISL 2. The Englishman hopes to find success in India with a little help from his countrymen. By Nandakumar Marar.

For Season 2 of the ISL, FC Pune City is embracing English enterprise, moving away from its failed Italian experiment. Former England international David Platt, who had earlier worked as an assistant coach in Manchester City, has taken charge from Italian Franco Colomba, who failed to inspire his side to the semifinals in the inaugural season. Massimo Battara, City’s goalkeeping coach between 2009-2013, has joined Platt’s team as his assistant. The club, now, is trying to rope in players — particularly forwards — from England, with Premier League experience, using Platt’s knowledge of the English game.

The franchisee did well to tie up with Italian Serie A side ACF Fiorentina and the players had the opportunity to train in Florence ahead of the first season. Another tie up with Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes opened up opportunities for two Indian players — Manish Maithani and Israil Gurung — to train and play abroad in loan deals. The duo will be an integral part of Pune’s campaign this term.

The players are expected to undergo a medical and fitness evaluation in Pune, supervised by fitness coach Niall Clark (ex-Man City) and physio Matt Radcliffe (ex-Man United), before travelling to Turkey for a pre-season camp at Gloria Sports Centre, Antalya.

“In terms of physicality, the Portugal experience made a difference to Maithani and Gurung. The effect will be seen in the pre-season,” FCPC CEO Gaurav Modwell says. “David Platt is from England, so the coaching setup is a reflection of his identity.”

Italians Bruno Cirillo, Danielle Magliocchetti and Emmanuelle Belaridi have not been retained and Pune has decided to completely revamp its foreign line up, only signing Costa Rican Yendrick Ruiz so far.

“We have managed to get the right domestic players, whoever we had targeted ahead of the auction and draft,” Modwell adds.

The club went out of its way to secure the signature of Fanai Lalrempuia, negotiating a deal with Delhi Dynamos for Rs 11 lakh (using the Instant Trade facility), after the side from the national capital had picked him up for Rs 1.8 lakh in the draft. In the auction, Pune picked up winger Jackichand Singh for Rs 45 lakh and then fought off competition from five more franchisees to sign midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh for a whopping Rs 1.05 crore, paying almost four times more than his base price of Rs 27.50 lakh.

Lyngdoh, who has improved immensely playing for Bengaluru FC under the watchful eyes of Englishman Ashley Westwood, was adjudged the ‘Best Midfielder’ of the I-League for the 2014-15 season and has also made a smooth transition to the senior national side.

Giving him company in the middle of the park will be Lenny Rodrigues, a real livewire. The acquisition of defender Gurjinder Kumar for Rs 27 lakh in the draft was another smart piece of business.

“Eugeneson and Jackichand were the two best players in the I-League. Our intention is to build a compact side, so we went for both. The next step is to recruit powerful strikers, an area we are relatively thin at the moment” says the CEO. “A couple of Europeans have been contacted.”

The team will miss the experience of former France international David Trezeguet, the marquee signing of the first season, who has retired from all forms of competitive football. Also missing will be the versatile Indian international Mehrajuddin Wadoo, who has signed for Chennaiyin FC.