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The Goan coach reflects on his time with the Red Lizards as his four-year tenure came to a close and will be seen at the helm of Salgaocar next season...

Derrick Pereira’s sojourn at Pune FC (PFC) has ended with the club finishing second in the I-League. He has certainly helped establish the club as one of the top sides in the country and brought stability as well as they have always ended in the top five.

On being asked whether he has accomplished what he was assigned to do at the club, Derrick stated that from the management’s perspective he had, but personally certainly not.

“Not at all (accomplished). Last year or the year before, Chirag Tanna (Pune FC’s Head of Operations) told me that ‘Derrick, you are not leaving before winning something with PFC’. When I joined PFC, the board of directors’ aim was to establish themselves in the league. My personal aim was to win. I was pushing the players but I couldn’t do it. But if you go by the management’s aims, I think we have done quite well. A promoted team ending up third and maintaining the top five positions, I think it was quite okay,” he told Goal.

In Indian football, it is not surprising for an owner to interfere into the coaching side of things and there are numerous examples of the same. Derrick maintained that he has yet to come across such a scenario in his career.

“As far as I’m concerned right from when I started my coaching career, there was no interference from any of the management at any club. Not that I don’t listen to whoever is involved. If somebody comes and talks to me, I listen. If it is good, I take it. If not, I leave it. At Pune FC, it was teamwork - right from the board of directors to everybody. We have worked professionally and that’s the reason why the results were showing. Facility-wise, we were supported by the board, giving the best facilities to the players to the team. When we travelled to the away games, the hotels were good. In the history of Indian football, Pune FC have two training pitches, which none of the clubs have. There are a lot of other facilities that are given to the team which I have seen for the first time over here. The results show all about the team,” he mentioned.

Pune FC are blessed to have a management who not only love football but also understand the technical side of it. They have the capability to analyse, reflect and thereby come to a realistic conclusion.

The 50 year old expressed his gratitude to the owners and said, “We used to have a lot of meetings in Mumbai but this year, I think we had one on budget – no analyzing the matches. But earlier we used to analyse the game whenever the team wasn’t doing well. We would sit with the bosses and I felt at that time, a lot of things that I have learnt from them. I am taking back more than what I have given.”

Derrick’s tryst with number three goes back a long way. He has finished third with twice at Mahindra United and once at Pune.

“This is my first second finish. Yes, I am very happy. I finished twice third, once fifth and once first with Mahindra United. I think number three never seems to desert me. With Pune FC, I finished third, fifth twice and second. Even at Vasco, we finished third twice, fifth, sixth and then tenth. I think the year when I leave my club finishes on an even number!”

Reflecting on having missed the title this season by not much, Derrick believes that had his team been more serious in some of the matches, things could have turned out differently.

“We just missed the title by this much. If you look back, it was just a couple of matches which we should have taken a little more seriously. I think then we could have been in a better position to put pressure on Churchill and East Bengal. The draws especially against Shillong Lajong and United Sikkim and the loss to Salgaocar at home - Those are the matches which went against our title hopes,” he signed off.

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