FC Pune City have always roped in the big-name coaches and marquee players right from the inaugural season of the Indian Super League (ISL) in their bid to win silverware. In their very first campaign, French legend David Trezeguet was the marquee player and they also signed Greek World Cupper Kostas Katsouranis. In spite of these signings, the Franco Colomba-coached team finished third from bottom, missing out on a play-off spot.
In the second season, the team was coached by David Platt and had a flying start to their season as they thumped Mumbai City 3-1 in the Maharashtra derby. But, their form went southwards in the business end of the season as they lost five and drew three in their last eight matches to finish second last. In 2016, although they signed Barcelona and Iceland legend Eidur Gudjohnsen as their marquee player, a pre-season injury meant he wouldn't play a part in the tournament. This time around, Spaniard Antonio Habas was calling the shots from the dug-out, but even the man who had previously guided ATK to the championship failed to bring in a positive change and the side slumped to a sixth-place finish.
Come 2017, Habas' contract was mutually terminated and in came Ranko Popovic. During his time with Real Zaragoza, he was named "Coach of the Month" in October 2015 and he took Zaragoza to the finals of the La Liga play-offs. In Thailand, he led Buriram United FC to lift the Thai League Cup.
Under his tutelage, Pune City reached the play-offs for the very first time as they finished fourth with 30 points. A host of young players burst onto the scene after enjoying breakthrough seasons.
Pune's season came to an end with their 3-2 loss against Shillong Lajong in the Super Cup and Popovic is now looking forward to spending some time with his family. But, the Serbian doesn't know whether he will be coming back to India and once again take charge of Pune City.
But sources close to Goal can confirm that the former central defender has asked for a hike in his wages after guiding the Orange Army to their first semi-finals. But the management is still mulling over his demands and is yet to take a decision on this matter.
When the coach was asked about his future he said," The management is good and I would really like to come back. But I have not yet decided as my first priority now is to spend time with my family."
Only time will tell whether Pune chooses to stick with him or continue their usual trial-and-error tactic when it comes to appointing managers and marquee players.