ATK head coach Steve Coppell expressed his concern regarding the schedule of the fifth season of Indian Super League (ISL). A league calendar that has a cluster of games followed by periods of lull has not impressed the English coach.
“The schedule is almost like a waltz. Suddenly, we have games thick and fast and then one moment there is a lull. In a period in November, we have just one game in 20 days. But what remains constant throughout the season is mental determination," he said.
The Kolkata-based club will be hoping to get back into the playoffs after a disappointing campaign in the league last season. One of the key ingredients to success is the continuity of the coach and players, according to the new ATK.
“Looking at the ISL, continuity is an advantage. Continuity in terms of the coach, continuity in terms of players. The top four teams from last year will again be strong. Chennaiyin, Bengaluru and Pune City will be strong. We have to rebuild ATK and aim for the top end of the table, the elite end. To make it there, we have to be effective.”
Coppell believes that the quality of the players at the individual level matters more than the formation a team chooses to adopt.
“Today, football around the world, there is not a big deal of difference in style of play. Case in point - the World Champions France play a 4-4-2 which is normally associated with English teams and the English champions now play a 4-3-3. It doesn't matter where the coach comes from. It depends on the quality of the players.
"The style of the coach will not take over the club. It is about the individual players who will give the team a shape in the season. The coach is there to direct the ship. Look at John Gregory at Chennaiyin last year. He showed that the ISL is not exclusively about Spanish or Brazilian coaches. It is about the coming together of players.”
According to Coppell, the team finally has players who would be fitting into his system very well.
“I don't design teams to be defensive. For the last two years, I might not have had those players that could give that something extra in the final third. This time we have Manuel Lanzarote, Everton Santos, Kalu Uche and Balwant Singh who could do that with the ball. It is all about balance in the team.“
“I would like to think we're efficient when we don't have the ball. But there is a balance to be had. For the opening game against Kerala, they'll be a strong side but we will be ready.”
Coppell is excited about the prospects of some new ammo in his frontline in the form of Manuel Lanzarote.
“I really didn't have a great deal of say in the formation of the squad. He was already there before me. When I came on board and saw it (the squad), I was pretty happy with it. The owner has been saying the squad is balanced and that is the case. But, it is still to be proven.
"Inevitably teams will be making adjustments throughout the season, make more additions in the January window. The personality of the side will change during the season.”