The Kolkata-based ISL side had won the league in the first season and then repeated the feat in the third edition. They had reached the play-offs in the second year.
Till the third year, La Liga giants Atletico de Madrid co-owned the club and the team was named Atletico de Kolkata. While the Spanish giants didn’t spend a penny in those three years, they looked after the technical affairs.
Two very high-profile Spanish coaches were in charge of the team during the period. While Antonio Lopez Habas managed the team in the first two editions, former Spanish international goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina took charge in the third season.
ATK was a very strong unit under the tutelage of Antonio Habas and Jose Molina and were arguably the most dominant side in the league.
But things drastically changed after the third year. ATK’s principal owner Sanjeev Goenka decided to call off the partnership with Atletico Madrid. They also brought a major change in the club’s philosophy
By bringing in the English duo of Teddy Sheringham and Ashley Westwood, it was evident that the club wanted a different approach. However, the move miserably failed as the team finished ninth in the ISL 2017-18 points table. For the first time in history, the club had finished outside top four and had seen three managers managing the club in the same season.
But the owners wanted to give the British style one more chance as they brought on board experienced English manager Steve Coppell at the helm of affairs. Coppell, who had a healthy track record in the ISL with Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur, failed to propel ATK to any success. The club once again finished outside top four.
The back-to-back failures have forced the club owners to embrace the tried and tested as they brought back Antonio Lopez Habas at the helm.
Habas is undoubtedly one of the best and most successful coaches in the history of the league. His pragmatic approach to the game has definitely been a success in the initial years of the ISL.
Though the Spaniard coached FC Pune City in the third year, he failed to replicate his success with ATK there and had to part ways with the club just ahead of the fourth season due to differences with the management.
Now this is another chance for the coach to redeem himself at a club whose success he has partly shaped.
ATK have recruited several quality players in multiple positions like Fijian international striker Roy Krishna who was the top scorer A-League last season. They have also added some big Indian names like Anas Edathodika and a promising striker in Jobby Justin.
With a strong squad in hand, the Spanish coach is expected to excel at ATK this season. Will the two times ISL champions revive lost glory?