Both managers are glad that the time for talking is over and are keen to hit the ground running.
Kerala Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen showered praise on Indian players ahead of his team’s ISL-4 opener against defending champions ATK. The former Manchester United first team coach said he was delighted with the players’ discipline and their willingness to learn.
“I am very very impressed with discipline and responsibility of the Indian players. Also, I am pleased with their willingness to learn and the ability to adapt and take things on board,” said Meulensteen.
Kerala Blasters have only managed one win out of eight games played against ATK. Meulensteen, on the contrary, believes it will be a fresh start tomorrow. “The past has no relevance to what’s going to happen tomorrow. It will be different managers, different players, so you basically start from the scratch.”
Rene Meulensteen at the Press Conference earlier on Thursday
Meulensteen insisted that former Manchester United players Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown were motivated to come to India and hoped their experience can help the team. He also explained how the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs stood out from the rest.
“If you analyse those top players (Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs), they don’t take (too many) touches they don’t need and that creates a different rhythm and speed of play. It’s not easy but that’s what we are aiming for.”
He reserved special praise for Stephen Constantine for helping India seal a place in 2019 Asian Cup. The coach confirmed Sandesh Jhingan is fit after playing 90 minutes against Myanmar in the Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Teddy Sheringham keen to silence Kerala Blasters faithful
ATK coach Teddy Sheringham is a huge fan of Kerala Blasters’ Berbatov but hopes he doesn’t enjoy watching the Bulgarian tomorrow in Kochi. The former Manchester United legend is also keen to put on a good show against the hosts.
Despite Robbie Keane’s absence, the former Manchester United legend is happy with the squad at his disposal. “Apart from Robbie Keane’s injury, there is nothing major to talk about. We (have) still got a good squad and I am pleased with what I have,” said Sheringham.
Though Sheringham refused to divulge on how his team will counter the threat of Berbatov, he is keen to keep the vocal Kerala Blasters fans quiet.
ATK manager Teddy Sheringham talks to the media before the ISL season opener
“Obviously they (Kerala Blasters fans) won’t be supporting us but we’ll know that we are doing great if we can try and keep these amazing fans quiet.”
The 51-year-old reckons it’s a good move by ISL to allow only five foreign players on the pitch and hopes the number will come down gradually.
“We are here to help. We can always learn from Indian boys. There are some things my Indian players have done that I wasn’t expecting and I was very very impressed. It’s all about transforming that sort of play onto the pitch and showing what they can do.”
Sheringham also added that, though Keane and Berbatov are past their prime, the former Premier League stars are still capable of producing magic.
Earlier in the press conference, Meulensteen joked that Sheringham could congratulate him after the game, and Kerala Blasters fans will be hoping for nothing less.