The Stallions’ boss talked about his decision to come to India, his time in the Premier League and more.
The 2018-19 season started off with FC Pune City sacking their new head coach Miguel Angel Portugal after just three games, followed by which technical director Pradyum Reddy took over as the interim coach. Under the 42-year-old, The Stallions picked up three wins in five games before the international break.
During the break, the club announced the appointment of new head coach Phil Brown for the rest of the season. Having plied his trade in England’s top divisions, Brown comes with vast experience and will be a key behind Pune’s resurgence in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.
The Stallions’ new boss engaged in an interesting conversation with Khel Now’s Pune correspondent Neil Talnikar, talking about his move to Indian football and his experience during his days in the Premier League.
The 59-year-old began on a positive note as he spoke about a good training session earlier that day. Impressed by the climate at his new workplace, Brown went on to speak about his motivation to come to India saying, “When Pune came knocking on the door I was up for it.”
The new FC Pune City tactician’s all-time world five-a-side team had some surprising inclusions
“I wanted to manage a club in a different climate, different country, different languages and different culture. The atmosphere here is totally different than that in England. In fact, I’m glad what I’ve done so far.”
“Everybody’s been very friendly, everybody’s been very good to me, the response from the players has been exceptional,” he added.
The former Derby County, Bolton Wanderers and Hull City manager further talked about how he is impressed with the Indian players in the league and also with the national team, which played very well recently. “I think it is a good time for me to come to India and I hope to finish the season strong with Pune City.”
Talking about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the team the Englishman said, “I think we are pretty strong with the ball. Technically, we have a very good set of players and these, in particular, are the ones in the frontline or whom I call the creators. I think we have got very creative players.”
“In contrast to that, I think one of our weaknesses is when the opposition has the ball. We actually look a little vulnerable when we don’t have the ball and it is my responsibility to change that.”
“Hopefully, the players are taking in all the information that I’ve been giving them from the past few weeks. There are a lot of coaching sessions when they have to listen and understand. This is when Robin (Singh) and Marko (Stankovic) come in handy while translating the same to the team. It is very important to have an understanding.”
The Stallions have conceded a lot of goals this season and Brown expressed his urge to change that. “I have always taught myself that I can create a team environment that won’t concede goals. Because when you get a team to not concede goals and infact score them, that is enough to achieve success.”
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It is always difficult for any manager to join a club in the middle of the season and one cannot expect good results to come all of a sudden and Brown was exactly of the same opinion. However, at the same time he also made a point that, “You never join a football club at the perfect time. There’s always something that has gone wrong before and you have to resolve the problem and go forward.”
“I think the one problem we had before was that the previous coach didn’t win enough games. Simple. You’ve got to win games in football. But still, the previous coach isn’t a bad one in my opinion. Every coach is different and everyone has their own ways. The difficult part comes when you have to pick up a team from halfway when somebody else has already got a fingerprint on it.”
Before the tactician’s arrival, Reddy had spoken about the outstanding quality of goalkeepers that Pune are blessed with. When asked about his opinion on the same the new coach said, “I think I’m very lucky to be in a situation where a player who was in the national team isn’t the first-choice keeper back at the club. I think that sort of competition will be only helpful for me.”
Furthermore, the former Blackpool and Bolton full-back spoke about his managerial days particularly when he was at Hull City. He had famously led the Tigers to promotion to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s 104-year history in 2008-09. Interestingly, under his tutelage, the newly-promoted side also managed to avoid relegation that season. Brown described that day as ‘a great day’ in his life.
“It was amazing to qualify for the Premier League. But, it was a challenge to remain in the top tier and we did it. That was one of the greatest achievements in my career and also in Hull’s history.”
“That was a dream come true in our lives and one of the most satisfying moments ever. One day I would like to go back to the Premier League and maybe the ISL is the stepping stone to it. I hope this turns out as a positive outcome of my time in India.”
It was also during his reign, when Hull were relegated after their second season in their Premier League, an anomaly which can be observed in the case of many clubs. Brown addresses these clubs as the ‘Yoyo Clubs.’ These are the teams that earn promotion to the top tier and get relegated in their second season. Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Reading are some of the examples of the so-called Yoyo teams.
Explaining in detail the reason behind it Brown said, “That is because the other teams begin to expect from the recently promoted teams in their second season. In their first season, however, the other teams usually take them for granted.”
“So, when Hull were promoted to the top tier, everyone were like ‘Who is it?’ and then bang, we win six games out of nine and everyone was like ‘Oh, this could be a problem now.”
Finally as the discussion entered in its final phase, the new Stallions’ boss predicted the top four in the Premier League this season. “My prediction to win the title this season would be Liverpool. I think Manchester United will get into the top four now, though they will finish fourth and surely even Manchester City. As for the remaining spot, I would go for Chelsea.”