Has Cesar Ferrando lost credibility by calling Passi Man of the Match?
Written by: Sabin Castelino
The Men of Steel started their season on a positive note against Mumbai City in the opening round of fixtures.
Cesar Ferrando, the head coach of Jamshedpur FC is an optimistic man and it is excellent to see someone this positive at the helm. He has always maintained that his team is, “The best team in the world.”
There is no harm in hopeful optimism and many a time it does help to be positive when you are dealing with a meagre budget and high pressure due to a lopsidedly organized league. But, a coach’s words need to be consistent with reality or else after a certain amount of time, he sounds delusional.
Speaking of Ferrando, he has had a long career in Spain coaching mainly Segunda and Tercera Division teams and even has had a spell in Malaysia with Johor Darul Ta’azim. His coaching career's highlight was when he managed Atletico De Madrid for a season in 2004-2005.
For a journeyman career, Ferrando has seen it all and done it all, but his record suggests that he has never spent more than three seasons at a club except for Albacete, where he has had three different tenures from 2002-2016.
But, when you come over to an Indian club wherein the club has handed you quite a few Indian players even before you had arrived or even signed on as a manager, one should praise his team in moderation.
Sumeet Passi and Raju Gaikwad were once touted to be the crème-de-la-crème of Indian football by none other than national team coach Stephen Constantine. Although, he has now washed his hands off Raju, Constantine is still optimistic of Sumeet though, as he has even received many national team call-ups while he was nursing injuries.
But statistics rarely lie and one should realize that making statements even with a hint of delusion will throw fans into confusion and the coach may eventually lose his credibility. In the post-match press conference after the 0-2 away win over Jamshedpur Ferrando was promptly put in the spot by this writer as Passi and Gaikwad came off with mediocre against an opposition that was downed by the rest of the team's brilliance.
He immediately went on the defensive and said, “They played very well for me. But, I think I have the best players in the world. They are my team and I have the best players in the world. When we lose and when we win, this is my team. This is my team and I will defend my team and they are the best players in the world.”
These statements have to be measured against statistics. Passi only had 48 touches in the match and made 25 passes of which only 48% were completed. Being the lead striker, his final ball was continuously lacking and he was hardly involved in active play.
Gaikwad too had a below-par game as the Men of Steel's captain Tiri had to rescue him for his multiple errors. He also made only three interceptions and won zero tackles in the match which piled on the pressure for Tiri further.
When after such displays, your coach decides to defend you, then either he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart or maybe just to protect you from the media. But, when the coach goes on to declare that you deserve the Man of the Match, it’s a step too far.
Ferrando openly went on the offensive when he was asked about Tim Cahill who also plays in the same position saying, “Cahill is a player, who is very important for us. I hope he can play the next match. But I am very happy with Passi. He works for the team, not for himself. He works for the team, he runs a lot, he fights a lot. For me (Passi is) the Man of the Match.”
Positivitivity is one of the few things a new tactician needs direly to take his team forward. However, with the aforementioned praise, one might wonder how and why the Spaniard rates Passi so much. With Tim Cahill coming back, will the Men of Steel see the Australian legend spearheading their attack or will this praise land Passi another start over the Socceroos striker against Bengaluru FC? Only time will tell.