During his first interaction with the media a few months back, Mumbai City FC's marquee player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka insisted that he wasn't ready for a full-time managerial role and was only donning the hat of a manager for this season.
Sunil Chhetri watches his ISL teammate & Mumbai City FC's marquee player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka train at Cooperage. Pic/Atul Kamble
Yesterday, as the Mumbai franchise trained at Cooperage, the Frenchman was more at ease being Anelka, the player, than Anelka, the manager.
For almost the entire nearly hour-and-half-long session, Anelka barely exchanged a few lines with teammates, except at the end when he led the team's stellar attacking force of Sunil Chhetri, Andre Moritz and Sony Norde in a specific drill for strikers.
The training session was instead led by Mumbai's assistant coach Oscar Bruzon, who was seen barking instructions for the first 30 minutes as the team got into their groove. Fitness and conditioning coach Adrian Dias then undertook team exercises with a stretching band for around 15 minutes after which the group split into two for a 4-a-side game. Anelka, all through, was quieter than the quietest Indian player.
"He (Anelka) speaks little, but observes everything and gives feedback if you do something wrong," said Mumbai's Tunisian midfielder Salim Benachour. "To be fair, it's difficult being a player and manager at the same time. I'm training as a player first," said Anelka, who previously played the role of player-manager at Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua briefly in 2012.