What’s the story?
The 37-year-old Robbie Keane may no longer play as a player for ATK. A press conference hints at him retiring as a player after the recent loss to FC Goa in the ongoing Hero Super Cup.
Under his guidance of the former Spurs player, ATK started their Super Cup campaign with a 4-1 thrashing of I-league Club Chennai City FC. However, they failed to make an impact in the pre-quarters bowing out to ISL compatriots FC Goa 3-1.
At the post-match media meet, Robbie said, "For me, it is not the right time to speak about my future, at this moment," thereby hinting at retirement as a player.
In case you didn't know…
Teddy Sheringham was appointed as the head coach of ATK for this seasons ISL. After winning only three games out of ten games in charge, Sheringham was sacked. Ashley Westwood took his place as their interim coach. Ultimately, when Ashley too failed to impress and make a substantial impact at the club, Robbie Keane was named the player-manager for the ongoing Hero Super Cup.
Even though Keane was injured for half of this seasons ISL, he still did well on a personal level by scoring eight goals in eleven games.
The heart of the matter
ATK had their worst ISL season ever finishing ninth but they were still hopeful of doing well in the Super Cup under their newly assigned player-manager. After a terrific start in the qualifying round with a 4-1 win, they returned to a poor run with a 3-1 loss to FC Goa.
At the press conference, Keane suggested he will hang his boots, "I have enjoyed it. It has been a good experience. It is something (managing) I want to do in the future. I have made no secret of that in the last few years." By saying that it has been a good experience he is indicating that it is his last.
Keane will contemplate what he wants to do for the next few years. He will certainly be more excited about playing a managerial role full time.
He also shared his opinions on the Super League. He is certainly optimistic and told the media that Indian football is still at a nascent stage and there is a lot to learn. He cited the example of Major League Soccer and how they have improved over the years and grown in popularity.
He urged the fans to come out in more numbers and get behind the team. Even if a team is losing and it has thousands of fans behind them, it can still go a long way in improving the performance of the side. Especially in a stadium like Salt Lake with 85,000 capacity, an attendance of merely 10,000-12,000 people is very nominal.
ATK being former winners in 2014 and 2016 ISL, Keane has high hopes for the club. He wants the fans to come out in support of the team.
If Robbie does end up retiring as a player and if ATK renews his contract as a manager, it may actually be a blessing in disguise for the club. He will certainly get to focus more of his energies on one aspect of the game.
Robbie has a lot of experience as a player and immense caliber to prove his mettle as a manager. He is already done with his coaching badges and the future of ATK looks promising if everything goes as speculated.
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