Indian Super League side FC Pune City are fully committed on making an impact on Indian Football. Ater a disappointing season in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League, FC Pune City have acquired the two best players of the 2015 I-League season along with many other notable foreign signings to prevent a repeat of last season’s performance.
After bringing in Adrian Mutu as their marquee player for the 2015 season, the club also acquired the services of former Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli. David Platt has been signed as the marquee manager, who in turn brought in a number of other experienced coaches from Europe. Sportskeeda spoke to FC Pune City CEO Gaurav Modwel about the upcoming season.
First and foremost we have to talk about the Mutu-Tuncay partnership that has generated huge excitement among the FC Pune City faithful. How do you think they will do?
Like any other fan, I am hopeful that they perform well but obviously names matter little when you are on the pitch. In my opinion, in the pre-season we are ironing out our shortcomings and working on our fitness. We have some good players in Mutu, Zokora, Tuncay including the Indian plays Jackie, Lenny, Arindam and Eugeneson. So it’s a decent team but we are taking no chances and we are doing a very long pre-season.
You have made many important signings this season, none more important than the manager. What were the reasons behind the decision of signing David Platt?
When we started looking for a new coach the main thing was communication. Football is about strategy and with people coming from cross-cultured backgrounds, it’s important to have a language to communicate in. Last year, we struggled because some things were lost in translation since a large part of your contingent doesn't speak the language. The ISL is a tournament and you don't get a lot of time develop players and you have to bring out the best out of the players in a short period of time.
David was with City handling big names such as Silva, Toure and Aguero. He knows how to motivate a player and has a very strategic mind. Since he has arrived he has worked almost every day working on the balance of the team. He discussed the strategy for the ISL draft every day. He has been an international player himself and he is just 48..
The Support staff has changed as well. Was that David Platt’s decision?
David has been able to attract the best support staff for us. Massimo Battara, for example, has six years experience with Schalke and Manchester City as a goalkeeping coach. Matt Radcliffe, the physio, was with Manchester United last season whereas Nial Clake was a sports scientist with West Ham, Arsenal and City. This is like a World Class support team and it happened because of David has those sorts of connections in Europe.
Pune City have their own registered fan club which is something new to Indian Football. How do you think that will help the club and Indian football grow?
Fans are obviously the most important people in football. When we started the Orange Army we wanted to make the fans feel a connect with the club. We started off with just a few people and now we have over a thousand and we hope the number keeps on increasing in the future. We conduct meetings on regular intervals to figure out how we can get more people involved with the club. We are starting various initiatives and we are expanding our borders so that more people are interested in the club.
Why have you chosen Turkey as the destination for your pre-season tour and do you have any pre-season friendlies lined up?
We have set up our pre-season training at the Gloria Sports Arena in Turkey which has World class facilities. As per David Platt and the players its the best they have ever seen. We are leaving nothing to chance but finally its football and we need to keep working hard and work as a team. Most teams haven't started, we are already into the third week of our pre-season at a world class facility.
As far as the friendlies are concerned we have decided not to play any matches in Turkey. David feels that the team needs to train for the tournament and we have enough players to play a match amongst ourselves. When we come back from Turkey we might play a friendly in India.
At the grassroots level, all ISL teams are working very hard to build a better future for Indian Football. When do you think we will see a genuine home-grown player in the ISL?
The grassroots program will help us achieve the dream of fielding youngsters from our academy in the ISL. But we are still some way off that. It will take some time. We do have some very talented youth players in our team. Pratik Shinde and Aniket Jadhav who is playing for the U-17 right now have a bright future ahead of them. In order to help the players reach their full potential, we plan on starting our own academy from next year.
Your Forces of Football campaign as attracted a lot of attention. Could you tell us something about it?
The Forces of football is an initiative taken by the club to get more people from Pune involved in football. We plan to organize tournaments for different age groups. We have also planned a corporate tournament along with an open tournament so that people can just come and enjoy playing the game with their friends. We plan to extend these tournaments further to surrounding areas such as Nagpur, Nashik, Latur, Solapur, Aurangabad etc to get the entire state of Maharashtra involved.
Along with the Forces of Football, we are also launching two new campaigns called as the Pride of Pune and My City, My Club.
Is the spending spree over?
We still have room for two more players so we will try to fill those positions as soon as possible. We are holding out for the right player. It might look like we have spent a lot this season but if you look at the finances the numbers are very similar to last season.
Who do you see as your biggest competition in this season's ISL?
Every team has bought good players this season. You look at Delhi they have bought Riise and Malouda, Kolkata have bought Postiga. Not just these two clubs every team has strengthened this season and it will be very close.