Goal.com Manager of the Month Derrick Pereira opens up on his time at Pune FC so far...
Well, any award or recognition is always pleasing, and the fact that this is your first such award makes it more special as well. Such recognitions give you belief that you're doing a good job, and motivates you to do better too. I'd like to thank everyone at Goal.com for this.
This is a landmark season in Pune FC's development. As of this moment, how satisfied are you with the season gone by?
I think we are working together as a team now. What's most important is that every individual's attitude is professional, and that's the way we have been going about things, and why we are now getting the results. We had some setbacks initially and drew too many games despite playing well, but we are winning now.
I think it is very satisfying to see the results come, and move up in the league table. It's good to see us up in a decent position now, and I'm happy with the way it's going at the moment. I really believe in this team.
It's never easy to go for a totally new challenge in whatever sphere you're working in, so what made you take the decision to join a newly promoted club, that too one which was formed in as recently as 2007? Surely, it wasn't an easy decision?
Well, what I would say is that I'm a professional, and I was really impressed with the way the people at Pune FC put it to me, right from the start. Rajiv Piramal (Partner in Piramal Group, promoters of Pune FC) approached me in
Goa, and briefed me on the club's plans, and what they wanted to achieve. That impressed me from day one.
I always wanted to be with a club where working would be very satisfying, so whether the club is new, or anything of that sort, doesn't matter to me. Facilities are important, and that Pune had a plan in place was vital too, as many clubs don't plan in advance. I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to work here, as it's a great set up, although we still have a long way to go. I'm confident that we will be doing well in the future.
It's tough being in charge of a new club. What have been the major challenges you have faced as a manager so far at Pune, on and off the pitch, and what would you call your biggest achievement so far?
The biggest challenge for me has been the fact that we had to get the team going, you know, to get the players to gel with each other. Everyone is new here and initially no one knows one another, so it isn't easy to get the combinations working. So getting the individuals to work as a team was has been my biggest challenge.
The fact that we have begun to get the results, and work together as one unit, is commendable, and is definitely my biggest achievement at the club so far. Off the pitch, there were no problems, as the club is managed well, and whatever was required by me or the team, has been provided by them.
In Indian football, it's always a task to make the Indian and the foreign players mix with each other, as at times, both groups tend to stick to themselves. How are things on that front at the club?
We have five foreign players at the club, that too from different countries, so we know that it isn't the easiest task. Having said that, I don't find any such problems now. I won't say that there were no problems at all initially, as there are such issues in every team, but we have sorted everything out, and are working as one big family now.
Language is an issue for foreigners when they move here, but we worked together, and have moved past it. I feel that there is no discrimination of any sort in our squad, and both Indians and foreigners are mixing well off the pitch, and that reflects on the pitch as well. Moreover, they are all excellent human beings.
What is Pune's strategy going forward? For you to build on this strong foundation, can we expect big name signings in the next few years, or an approach more aimed at bringing in homegrown talent?
The owners' main aim is definitely to promote homegrown talent. That is our primary focus, and there is a lot of importance given to youth development at the club. However, whenever need be, we will fill in whatever gaps there are in the squad with appropriate signings.
Also, we will have to keep in mind the availability of some players. For example, Jeje has been away with the U-19s most of the time, and has played just two league games. The AIFF also plans to keep national team players ahead of the Asia Cup, so we will take decisions taking everything into account.
Pune is a completely new name on India's footballing map. How has the city embraced the club? Not just the fans at the ground, but all over town?
Gradually, people all over Pune are getting to know about the club. At every level, we have people in place at the club to take care of these things, and to do their best to spread knowledge about Pune FC in the city. This is why you are seeing thousands of fans turning up for all our home games, and giving us a lot of support.
The city is a very nice place to live in on the whole, and the fans have been superb. For a place where hardly any professional football was played, the response has been superb, with a lot of people enquiring about us and our match schedule. The weather is very good, and I've settled in comfortably too.
Sometimes owners can be detached from the goings-on at the club, while at times they interfere a tad too much. What kind of a role is the board playing at Pune FC, and how involved are they on a daily basis?
The owners have been fantastic throughout, and keep themselves well-informed about whatever is happening on and off the pitch. We keep sending pre-match as well as post-match reports to the directors, so they are always aware of what we need. They are constantly in touch with me as well as the Chief of Operations Mr.Chirag Tanna, and we have our discussions after matches. They have been terrific owners.
It's been a clean sweep of sorts by Pune FC on Goal.com India this month, as your midfielder Arata Izumi has been named our Player of the Month for January. You think he deserved it?
Of course, he has been in very good form. Since his East Bengal and Mahindra days, he has improved a lot because he has been a regular here and has gained much more match experience. His work rate has also improved tremendously, and he is more mobile on the pitch.
The best thing is that he is improving every match. He had a few language issues early on, like any foreigner, but he is a disciplined and a nice boy, and has mixed well with the group.
Finally, it's a long road ahead for Pune FC, as this is just the beginning for the club. Do you see yourself being here for a long time?
Very much! Like I've said before, I really enjoy it here, but of course it's not down just to me. If the results are right, I will be here. The facilities are great and the administration are doing a fine job, so I would love to work here as long as I can.
Thanks Derrick, for taking time out to talk to us, and congratulations once again!
Thank you. Cheers!