On Stewart Hall’s Departure From Pune FC

Goal.com's Subhankar Mondal ponders on the departure of the Englishman from the Indian club…..

So another I-League coach has been got rid of. Okay, Pune FC have not featured in the Indian top flight yet, but they will in the 2009-2010 season which makes them an I-League side. And as Goal.com's Rahul Bali reported on Tuesday morning, they and their coach have parted company.

Now, the departure of Stewart Hall from one of India's professional football clubs is something that was on the horizon. Rumours in the media did suggest that something was not right between the coach and the club and when a TV channel carried out an interview with a well known football figure asking him whether he has been contacted by Pune FC for a possible coaching job, it was apparent that another vacancy in the coaching arena in Indian football was soon to be created.

Pune FC are yet to release an official statement but it is certain that Hall is no more their coach. The Englishman himself admitted this when he told Goal.com, “We have decided to go in different ways. I wanted to set the club up in European style while the club wanted to retain the Indian feel. We realized that we weren’t on the same wavelength.”

What exactly the differences were are unclear at the moment and at this point of time when an official declaration is yet to released, it would be futile to speculate on such a sensitive matter. But what one can say with confidence is that this decision of ‘sacking’ Stewart Hall wasn’t taken overnight.

Back in January this year when yours truly first spoke to Hall to discuss about the upcoming second division campaign, he did hint at some differences he had with the club management, saying, “When I came here, the club had already signed most of the players. I could only sign two foreign players and another Indian player. But I was not happy with the players I had and told the club so.

"Then in the December transfer period, I released eight players and signed three players. I am now happier than I was about three or four weeks back.”

At the time it appeared that all differences had been patched up but now it appears that the cracks remained, cracks that have eventually led to Pune FC and Stewart Hall heading in opposite directions.

Formerly associated with the Birmingham City youth academy, Stewart Hall earned Pune FC I-League promotion in only their second year of existence. In the first round, Pune FC were the only side in their entire second division not to have conceded any goal, but they couldn't score too many either, finishing second behind Sesa Football Academy in Group B.

In the second and final round of the I-League Division II, though, their performance improved manifold as they went on to become one of the four sides to qualify for next season's I-League campaign, scoring goals but conceding quite a number of them too.

It was indeed a marvelous feat for a club that doesn’t hail from a traditional footballing city. It was even more remarkable for the fact that it was only in their second year that they had managed to crack the I-League jackpot.

Initially it seemed a match made in heaven: a much experienced and heralded Englishman steering an Indian professional club to glory. But not every match made in heaven turns out to be an ever lasting one.

Just as Pune FC and Stewart Hall's didn't. 

Subhankar Mondal