David Platt may have taken over the reins of Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Pune City barely four months back, but he has come to a quick diagnosis of what ails Indian footballers.
ISL’s marquee players pose for a selfie during a media interaction at Worli’s NSCI stadium on Saturday. Pic/Suresh KK
“Indian players shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. They play with the fear of being judged every minute. There are instances when an Indian player is in a dangerous position, but he will pass to a foreign teammate because they are perceived to be better with the ball. There are also times when a pass should have been made forward, but instead goes sideways.
‘Opportunity to express’
“I’m trying to give the Indian footballers at Pune the opportunity to express themselves by not admonishing them when they err on the pitch. I want them to go for glory rather than play the safer passes,” Platt, who has been first team coach for Manchester City and England U-21 manager, said at the ISL Media Day event at Worli’s NSCI Stadium on Saturday.
While Platt observed that Indian players were too cautious lest they make a mistake, foreign imports like Delhi Dynamos’ star duo John Arne Riise and Florent Malouda asserted that many of the Indian players were almost reverential in their presence.
“You talk to the Indian players and they look like they are going to cry,” joked former Liverpool player Riise, before adding, “In my first 10 days of training with Delhi, the Indian players were very quiet. I yelled a few times because I don’t like to lose, be it in training or a match. The players looked like they took it personally. But I clarified with them that it wasn’t personal. Now, they are more open.”
‘Shy and quiet’
Riise’s Delhi teammate Malouda, best known for his stint with EPL giants Chelsea observed: “The Indian players are very shy and very respectful.” “Maybe a little too respectful,” said Kerala Blasters’ coach Peter Taylor, who has been England U-21 manager. “The players need to be confident in their own capabilities. They tend to give the ball to the foreign players a lot. We’ve tried to address this in a team meeting.”
India’s football captain Sunil Chhetri, however, rubbished the notion that Indian footballers are playing safe as they are afraid of making mistakes.
“I don’t think a footballer would have reached this level if he was afraid of making mistakes. Yes, the Indian players are not very expressive and maybe that could get interpreted as them being afraid. Sometimes, in match situations, players do make the wrong decisions, but it has got nothing to do with being a foreigner or Indian,” the Mumbai City FC striker said.