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In Perspective: Making sense of Stephen Constantine's comments

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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The national team boss opened up on a wide array of sensitive issies in his latest press interaction.

There has been a lot of talk about Stephen Constantine’s team call-ups, his way of football and the kind of plans he puts into place at the countries he manages. Here in India, the trend hasn’t changed. On Saturday, though, the man let his heart out and spoke at length about everything that has been written about him - right or wrong.

We take a look at where the 55-year-old went wrong and where, he’s been spot on.

Here is his full interview: Stephen Constantine breaks silence over selection process, compares India with Germany

“Okay, I need a certain type of player to do a certain type of job for the national team. We are not playing a team from India, we are playing on another level. So, if you score a couple of goals in the I-League or a couple of goals in the ISL, that’s great. But how does this translate to what we need and that too on an international level?”

If scoring a couple of goals in the ISL or the I-league doesn’t translate to what the gaffer needs at the international level, Seiminlen Doungel’s call-up looks baffling. At just 1.72 m, Doungel is not even a typical centre-forward, but a hard-working second striker. Well, maybe he has something Samuel Lalmuanpuia doesn’t.

 Constantine mounted a robust defence of his selection policy

“So the players that I don’t pick, it’s not that I have anything personal against them, it’s because they do not do what we need them to do for the international team. Maybe, they do it for their club managers, but it's a completely different system, philosophy.”

Our very own Louis van Gaal (the philosophy remark) has certainly got it wrong, here. Constantine clearly states that “They do not do what we need them to do for the international team,’’ even though he has not even selected several deserving players for the provisional squad. The manager was overlooking Balwant Singh in the first part of 2017, but after picking him up once, Singh has become an integral part of the side.

Players like Brandon Fernandes, Michael Soosairaj, Adil Khan, Lalramchullova and Zohmingliana Ralte (after his 2017 season with Aizawl FC) were never given call-ups. Making statements on a player without even allowing him a chance to showcase his willingness to adapt is vague and the manager certainly needs to take back his words on this.



“We changed the boys twice and they are nowhere near in condition to play for the national side. So, for the next ten days, we are going to have to bring them up. The season finished in April, a lot of them didn’t do much, a lot of them are tired. Again, we have to preserve all the players we think we are going to take forward. It’s a long process. I really don’t care what anybody says. My only agenda is to succeed for India. Nothing else.”

No issues there. He’s got it absolutely right. Players will obviously get rusty in off-season and that has happened. Also, Khel Now does not question his agenda, nor his willingness to succeed with the Blue Tigers. Yet, if you’re picking up new faces for the camp, why not pick the deserving ones.


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“You don’t like me, you don’t like the kind of football we play? I don’t care.”

Sure, you don’t. There’s no harm in not caring, but there’s no harm in empathizing a little bit as well. Even Manchester United fans, at least a faction, are not happy with the kind of football Jose Mourinho has brought to the Theatre of Dreams. The fans, the supporters, they’ve a right to have an opinion and expecting a better quality of football when you know you have the right players on the roster is not wrong.

“Apart from Germany in that moment, there was no team that was in the kind of form we were in. So, how could you in your right mind say the coach should leave.”

Listless. Pure gold. I’d leave it to the audience to judge this line.

“What is your complaint? That I don’t put your player? That I don’t put player from your club?”

No. The complaint is, how do you judge players? What is the basis? If Sumeet Passi makes it to the national setup time and again, why not Brandon, Adil, or for that matter, even Jerry Mawihmingthanga? Passi certainly didn’t do anything on the club scene in the last two years.

The gaffer must understand that for the fans, there’s no ‘our’ player. It’s a ‘good’ and 'bad' player. It’s a player who’s had a good season and one who’s not. These are fans and supporters, not player agents. Regarding players from clubs, no fan would want that, if the right players are chosen.

“The persons who think about Indian football, they are behind me, and to them - Thank You!”

Yes, you got that one absolutely right as well. Think, as well as control.

Published: Mon May 21, 2018 07:27 PM IST

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