1)What made you accept the offer from Kerala Blasters and what are your expectations out of this season?
Kerala Blasters is a club that has an image of breathing football. Besides that it has a huge fanbase. Football is played for the supporters and therefore it is a great challenge to bring an attacking style of football to Kerlala. Every where I have worked I always played a dominant style of football. So that’s what I will try to do here at Kerala Blasters. I have no expectations because they don’t matter. I am here now and work already has started by recruiting and forming the team. Everyday hard work and communicating with management needs to bring us results in the ned.
2) Until previous season, we couldn’t see a specific style of football from Kerala Blasters. What kind of philosophy are you going to implement here?
My philosophy is based on the Dutch style. Spanish football is flourishing in the last decade but this comes from the Dutch. Since I was little I was an admirer of Ajax and Barcelona. Till this day I stay faithful to these clubs with my support. The brand of football they stand for is also my style. Don’t get confused with just possession based football. I like to win. I am a bad loser!!! The best to describe my philosophy is as follows.
“Being invincible lies in the defense, the possibility to victory lies in the attack”
3) How important is to have a strong reserve team ? Do you have any plan to scout good young domestic players to the reserve side ?
This is important but can not just be changed in one month. A club’s structure and culture is built with a philosophy created by the management. Regardless if I am at the club or not, this should be an implemented structure that gives you more stability in order to sustain as a club in the ISL.
My priority is to form the first team and implement young players if possible. This is not like baking a cake, where you can go buy the ingredients and make a cake. Young talents might be there but you can’t pick some one from the street and put him into an ISL team. There is a road to be traveled for talents to reach that goal. Thats why the I league is so important. Most young players in ISL find their way through the I league where they gain experience.
4) Despite having a huge support our side failed to perform well on ground? In your opinion what are the things we need to work on as a team to make the most out of home support?
The home support should be supportive at all times. If in football you are only supportive when you win and when you lose you don’t, that we don’t call that support. As long as the players pour their heart out on the field, the supporters should show love and appreciation. Footballers are human beings and they need to give their all as a professional and in return they ask for support and confidence.
5) From Fan’s perspective, in previous seasons we didnt had a good playmaker also proper plan on set pieces. Fans are expecting a change in this. Can we expect a playmaker and a good yield in setpieces?
Football is a total picture. Set pieces are the easiest to organize and for sure we try to gain territory there. A playmaker is important and yes we will try to have one. In the end its the team effort together that makes you win. A good playmaker can make the difference. At the same time its about budget. So we will try to find the right player at the right price. I do think that Sahal has the qualities to be a playmaker. He needs to have the confidence and find stability to be one. We will work on that.
6) In the past, there were instances of fans criticizing players in social media for their performance. Are fans entitled to do this and what is it’s impact on team’s overall morale? What kind of advice would you give the players, about professionally handling the criticism?
Unfortunately in football criticism becomes slamming and very negative remarks. Being critical is fine but keep it civilised I always say.
Criticizing is easy, especially when you never actually played the game and have no idea what it takes to be a professional player. Players need to have a thick skin and not read all comments or be influenced by it. Not always easy but there is no other way. A good relationship/connection between supporters and players is important. So both have a responsibility to support each other in the best possible way.
7) Fans are expecting total football from our team. Keeping the result secondary, they want the team to play their hearts out for the fan base. Is it fair to have such expectations from the team?
I do what I always do. Try to make the team play proactive football. TRY TO DOMINATE AND TO WIN. My style is based on possession based
Football and attack. So that’s what we will try to give them.
8) You have been in Indian football fraternity for quite a while. What is your take on Manjappada’s contributions to Indian football and what kind of fan culture do you expect from us?
As I mentioned before. Football is for the fans. I was at East Bengal where they have a huge fanbase. Football is a part of their life.
They are very passionate about it. Here in Kerala it will not be different. I was this week in Dubai walking through the mall. On several occasions kerlala fans approached me for a selfie and a small talk. This shows that Kerala fans are everywhere and are in big numbers. Support us and be the 12th player at home games. Help is raise our game and intimidate the opponent with creating a feeling of an powerful elephant that can’t be moved.