In January, Portuguese and former NorthEast United gaffer Nelo Vingada became the seventh head coach to take charge of Kerala Blasters. David James was sacked after the club went on a winless run of 11 matches and Vingada started his new stint with a 0-0 draw against ATK in Kochi.
Nicknamed 'The Professor', the 65-year-old tactician has work to do at the club which is known for their large fanbase. The last home game saw a record all-time low turnout of around 4000 people and with play-offs out of sight, Vingada has been tasked with bringing the fans back on board.
Goal spoke to the chirpy and charming Nelo Vingada in Kochi and here are the notes from The Professor's class.
Q: What brought you to Kerala Blasters?
I remember the last game here, it was a fantastic atmosphere. That game was a tough game. I wasn't happy with the result but at the same time, I was pleased with the atmosphere. It wasn't normal to be in a stadium with 60000 supporters.
It is a short contract but it can be a good experience. It is a chance to bring the happiness back to Kerala supporters.
Q: Do you feel the ISL to be different from what it was in 2016?
A: The league in 2016 was very intense and hard. I don't have a complete vision now. But Indian players are growing up. I think it will be seven Indians and four foreigners soon. The young generation is improving. The future of Indian football is growing faster. The difference is that I see a lot more Indian players in first teams now.
Q: What is the next step for the development of Indian football?
A: I can compare this situation with one at Portugal 30 years ago. The level of football in Portugal was different then. I was working with Carlos Queiroz and other coaches and all of us together proposed a plan to give better chances for coaches.
The first step was to make a different analysis of courses given to coaches. To reach the top level football, a coach has to start with the youth. Youth football needs good coaches. People cannot be doctors and engineers without good teachers at the school level.
The second step was to create facilities. I remember that we made a proposal to professional clubs to invest 10 per cent of their budget in the beginning in youth football.
Today, the level and the quality is much better. I believe the next step for Indian football is to invest in youth football and different regions to promote local football. I have seen children playing outside in Guwahati, they need training grounds and minimum equipment.
Q: David James was criticised for his style of play at Kerala Blasters. What is good football, according to you?
A: To implement good football, you need good players, no doubts about that. First, we have to try to find the best players for your concept.
Before coming, I watched a lot of videos of Kerala and I was a little worried. After one week, I feel the players have the quality for the level of this league. Good football is football when you have the ball and you have the capacity to control the pace of the game. It is the capacity to recover well when you lose the ball, sometimes by pressing up front. I like my teams to pass the ball.
I like the style of Pep Guardiola. But he can spend 500 million dollars or more, here we cannot do that. We can try to play an attractive style of football. Supporters come to the stadium to watch their team win but if we can win playing good football, that is even better. You have more chances of winning when you play good football.
Jose Mourinho was my student in the University. His father was my football coach. He targets results and is more pragmatic. Results stick with you for your whole life and performance is forgotten after two games. I would like to see Pep Guardiola at West Ham, Real Valladolid etc. Both are great coaches.
I prefer results (over style). If I lose, I lose sleep. I try to be calm and relaxed outside but after the game, if I lose, I have to be alone as it is hard for me. It is the worst feeling. We have to play for the results.
Q: The Indian national team's style of play also has critics. How can style of play be improved?
A: I think the next step for AIFF and the clubs is to create facilities and conditions for these footballers. Schools in Portugal start teaching football to kids at the age of six but to be honest, I feel that is very very soon. For me at six, they have to run, jump and climb trees. It is to do physical activities and develop their bodies.
I think programs at schools must start at age 10 or 12 years old. First, let them play with the football and then at 12 or 13, teach them the football techniques.