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ISL 2017-18: Is criticism of the club’s budget by the coaches demeaning for the club owners?

07:11 GMT 19/02/2018
Sergio Lobera FC Goa Mumbai City FC ISL 4 2017/2018
Should the club management not question their coaches for publicly speaking about how low their team’s budget has been…

"Pressure doesn't exist for us at the moment. The only thing that exists is the excitement to try and improve on the difficult season that we (FC Goa) had last year, an illusion to be in the top four without having the budget to be there,” said FC Goa’s Sergio Lobera ahead of their clash against NorthEast United.

This is the coach of a team which spent INR 13.83 crores over the summer. The only teams to have spent more than them are ATK, Bengaluru FC, Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters. Out of the four mentioned, only Bengaluru FC have qualified for the play-offs while Mumbai and Kerala only have a slim chance.

In fact, teams who have spent lesser than Goa are currently in the top four, namely Chennaiyin FC, Jamshedpur FC and FC Pune City.

While budget does play an important role, the likes of ATK have showcased that how only money alone cannot solve a problem. Despite spending the highest, the reigning champions are struggling.

The idea is to have the right balance of not overspending and at the same time not being miserly – as has been the case at Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United.

So the question for Lobera is – what is the ideal budget to be in the top four? The Gaurs are amongst the teams who utilized the winter transfer window which means they have paid the players on their roster and signed new ones. Obviously, the club’s overall spend would have gone up with the signings of Mark Sifneos and Hugo Boumous.

Also was the mandate afforded to Lobera only to improve the team significantly from last season’s disappointment or was it to qualify for the play-offs?

It cannot be the former because Goa haven’t retained much of the players from last term.

So is it justified for a coach to claim that Goa or their fans are under an illusion to be in the top four without having the resources for the same?

At the other end of the spectrum is Miguel Angel Portugal of Delhi Dynamos, who has made one of the most ‘seminal’ statements in the history of the Indian Super League (ISL).

“We know what our problem is, it is set pieces. That is their challenge (for my players). If you want good players to win that challenge, it costs money,” he mentioned.

If you look at the players signed by Delhi Dynamos, at least three foreign players have played under Portugal including Matias Mirabaje, who easily has been the worst among the foreigners for the Delhi-based team.

Wasn’t Portugal aware of the club’s budget before the season started or is it a way to clear one’s name of the blame?

When coaches make statements such as those mentioned above, it’s an indication of the pressure they find themselves in. However, what it also does is project the club management in poor light. What it also points is that the coaches aren’t happy with the players at their disposal, now this could also translate to not having the best Indian contingent because these coaches weren’t involved in the signings of the domestic players. This could also be an attention deflecting tactic on the part of the coaches.

Coaches in some of the top leagues also moan about the budget but that is also not necessarily considered as the primary reason for the team’s failure to perform at the top most level.

In Delhi’s case, yes the budget should have been a bit more competitive but for Goa, there cannot be any excuses whatsoever.

When Delhi Dynamos visit FC Goa this Wednesday, it will be a clash of two coaches who have publicly linked the club’s performance or aspirations with that of the budget.

If finances were the only criterion to be in the top four, ATK would have been leading the standings by some distance.