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ISL 2018-19: Phil Brown - There are some really good things to like about Pune City at the moment

10:38 pm AEDT 23/2/19
Phil Brown Chennaiyin Pune City
The FC Pune City coach has also identified some of the strengths and weaknesses of Delhi Dynamos ahead of the clash...

FC Pune City will look to continue their six-match unbeaten run when they take on Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday.

The Stallions’ previous track record against Delhi does not inspire too much confidence given they have won only one of the nine fixtures but head coach Phil Brown remains unperturbed.

“I don’t think it (matters) does in this situation. It is my first experience in India and having had four games here, we have broken a couple of records already. At the end of the day, it’s about 90 minutes of football. We know Delhi have had a troubled season, they expected to be up there at the start of the season but they find themselves in the bottom two,” Brown stated.

“It’s a big fixture as far as we are concerned. Our focus so far has to be to win all six games. We have managed to win two and draw two. In the face of a lot of adversity, the fact is that we have come from behind in many games to take the points. I think the character of the team has been first-class. The group of players that I have with me have shown tremendous spirit. I look forward to the games regardless of the opposition.

“We do a lot of hard work, study the opposition, work out how they love to play, their strengths and weaknesses. All teams have strengths and weaknesses and we have to try and find them out. We know one or two things that Delhi do well. We also know one or two things that Delhi don’t do well. So hopefully that will be an important factor in the game and result tomorrow.”

Pune have deployed a four- man defence since Brown’s arrival at the club but switched to a back three in the dying minutes of their 1-1 draw against NorthEast United. The Englishman, however, remains keen to stick to the four-man defence for the remainder of the season.

“It is an interesting question because we talked as coaching staff about what has gone right for the football club. One of the big strengths is the system. I think it’s the strength of the foreign players playing in the middle of the two Indian fullbacks Sarthak (Golui) and Sahil (Panwar). They are playing really well, the way they defend and their attitude.  You have the communication from Martin (Diaz) in the middle and they are growing into the system. It would be a little bit remiss for me If I didn’t change the system. However, during the course of the four games we have had, we have had a look at the back four,” Brown explained.

“Against NorthEast, we went with a back four and quickly went to a back three when their man got sent off to try and utilize Mills as a striker. There are things you can do during a game from a tactical perspective. I am hoping that the system that we have, we will probably stick with in the last two games and hopefully get two wins,” he added.

Brown’s short tenure at Pune has been a successful one so far and the former Hull City boss is hoping for a much longer stay in the ISL.

The Pune coach said, “What most coaches try to do is to fit round pegs in round holes. You don’t try to fit too many squares in round holes. You have so many people asking too many different questions during the course of a game. The game itself asks you a big enough question. So why confuse your own players?”

“I think that has been the secret of our success since we came together. We are not asking players to do anything different. We are not asking them to do what they can’t do. We are asking players to just play and do what they have been brought up to do. 

“Whether he’s from an Indian background or a foreign background, it doesn’t matter when you see them on a daily basis in training There are some really good things to like about Pune at the moment. I am looking forward to a long time here if it is possible. If we win two games and finish the season strong, we will give the people some memories which is our main aim.”

Midfielder Adil Khan will miss the clash against Delhi due to a suspension but Brown and Pune have other injury troubles to key players to worry about too.

“Marko Stankovic came off the other day but he actually tweaked his hamstring very early in the game. He came through in the first-half and we checked on him at half-time. He dictates the pace of the game from our perspective. He helps Adil out too. He is a doubt for the game. Diego (Carlos) suffered a heavy blow right in the last 10-15 seconds. Looks like he has got a grade two tear in his ankle ligaments,” said Brown.

“I think Diego’s season is finished this year which is very disappointing from my perspective. One of the real bright spots has been Diego’s performances in a strange position. Diego is our only square peg in a round hole but he has gone great defensively. He is a winger but he has played wing-back. That’s a big blow but we have one or two options down the right side. We also have a suspension to Adil but we have Marcelinho back. So we have a couple of decisions to make as to who we will play,” he continued.