Steve Coppell, the head coach of Indian Super League (ISL) side Jamshedpur FC, was nostalgic while speaking about his stint with Kerala Blasters last season at the ISL Media Day held in Kolkata on Sunday. But he was quick to remind everyone that he will be on the other side this time around and hopes football wins when his side takes on Blasters on the second match day.
"It won't be bittersweet. It will be sweet-sweet. Always good to go back to Kerala. It's a hotbed for football and they appreciate football. I hope on the night football wins but I am on the other side," said Coppell.
He accepts that working with Jamshedpur FC is a challenge but at the same time he has the chance to create history with a debut side, which is why he agreed to come on board.
"There were rumours two new teams would join from this edition. Tata and Jamshedpur will be a healthy addition. When I spoke to them I felt it will be a massive challenge to start something new. It will be history whatever Jamshedpur FC does. That attracted me to come back. "
The former Kerala Blasters coach is evidently not happy with the ISL draft system as he would rather prefer an open auction for players. He also expressed his unhappiness as JFC was able to bag only 3-4 first choice players from a list of around a dozen players.
"I would prefer an open market Instead of going round and Round. Hope the draft doesn't take place next year but I don't know. "
"We had picked number one as three. We got a good goalkeeper and got a good solid defender. We had a list of a dozen names but we got only 3-4 of them. But we made sure we had players in the right positions. I don't think it's an ideal way of doing things."
Cameroonian international Andre Bikey, who accompanied Coppell at the event, stressed on the fitness of players as the league is longer this time.
"The season is longer this time. Therefore, the fitness of players has to be much better. We have to care more about our bodies."
Coppell also commented on the increasing competitiveness of ISL, now that it has been spread over five months than the usual two.
"There are some good match winners on every team and that is important. We need to maintain continuity as the league has become longer. Potentially Jamshedpur FC will be a big club in ISL. Apart from that no other goals to be set."
Bikey is confident and is ready to play anywhere on the pitch and thinks that the presence of Anas and Tiri will not be a deterrence in finding playing time.
" I've come here to play not to sit on the bench. So I can play wherever coach wants. "
He also stressed that the Indian players have got better with time and with an increased quota in the starting XI they will flourish even more.
"The level of Indian players definitely improved. Previously it was five Indian players in the starting XI but the number has increased. I think that will help the growth of Indian footballers. The competition is getting tougher every year. "
Coppell believes that since Jamshedpur is a new entrant expectation shall be low and feels that things would start taking shape after a couple of games.
"Don't think there are any expectations given we are a new franchise. Everything is brand new. You'll appreciate the work that is being put together for the stadium. Until we play 3-4 games we don't how it will pan out."