I-League: There Are Better Players In Indian Football Now – Mohun Bagan Coach Steve Darby

In part two of our exclusive interview with new Mohun Bagan coach Steve Darby, the Englishman talks about his impressions on Indian football in general.
After enduring a trophyless campaign last season, the Mohun Bagan officials have put their faith in Englishman Steve Darby for the 2011-12 season.

Darby would be best remembered among football fans in India for his stint as a pundit on ESPNSTAR. But the 56-year-old also has a lot of experience as a coach in Asia with his last job being the role of assistant coach of the Thailand national team alongside head coach Bryan Robson.

When asked about what exactly brought him to India to take over as Mohun Bagan coach, Darby told Goal.com, “I spoke to Bob (Houghton), Stephen (Constantine) and of course I knew Bhaichung (Bhutia) and was in touch with him as well. The offer which the club (Mohun Bagan) made to me was also quite good.”

The man from Liverpool also revealed how he tried to sign Bhaichung Bhutia when he was in charge of Singapore club Home United and further opined that the biggest improvement in Indian football has been the presence of better quality players.

“I tried to sign Bhaichung when I was at Home United but the offer we were giving him was less than what he was earning in India that time.

Darby Tried To Sign Bhaichung

“Through several friends like Stephen (Constantine), David (Booth) I used to keep track of Indian football. The biggest improvement now I think is that there are better players.”

Darby also looked back to the two friendlies between Thailand and India, which took place last year but didn’t comment much on the current national team as he stated that it was not possible to give an opinion based on the two matches against UAE.

“At the game in Thailand, we played our full strength team and then in India we used our several Under-23 players to give them a tough away test ahead of the Asian Games. I remember Sunil (Chhetri) giving us a few problems in the first half in the Delhi game.

“In the first leg against UAE, India was down to nine and in the second leg the conditions were not suitable for playing. So it’s not possible to make out anything from those two matches.”

The former Perak FA coach also defended Bob Houghton for the latter’s repeated criticism on the lack of infrastructure in Indian football and signed off by stating that he was never approached by the AIFF for the India job despite several rumours claiming the same.

“Whatever Bob said was for the benefit of his players. You give Sunil (Chhetri) a proper ground and you will see the difference.

“No I was never approached by the Indian FA, those were all rumours. But yes I would have loved to take the job if it was ever offered,” he concluded with a smile.

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