ISL 2017: NorthEast United FC manager taunts ATK for paying their marquee players to warm benches
What’s the story?
Newly recruited NorthEast United head coach, Joao Carlos Pires de Deus, took a sly dig at ATK, saying that he prefers to have a team full of fit players who can grind it out for 90 minutes, rather than seeing a marquee star getting injured and warming the bench, ahead of ISL 2017.
In case you didn’t know
Unlike other seasons, this year onwards it isn’t mandatory for Indian Super League (ISL) teams to include a marquee player in the squad. A marquee star is someone who has represented his country in any of the international continental competitions or the FIFA World Cup.
Heart of the matter
NorthEast have opted to not go for a marquee player this season, and when Carlos was asked about the reason behind this move, he said, “It’s better to have fit players who can run for 90 minutes than have a marquee who doesn’t play.”
Incidentally, two-time ISL champions ATK have suffered the most, when matches missed by their marquee stars are taken into account. In the first season, Luis Garcia couldn’t play all the matches, while in ISL 2, Helder Postiga got injured just after one game and missed the whole tournament. He again missed quite a few games in season 3.
Incidentally, ATK opted for Tottenham Hotspur and Republic of Ireland legend Robbie Keane as their marquee player for ISL 4, but he is set to miss around three to five weeks due to an injury.
NorthEast had their strategy in place already, and they have trusted those foreigners who might not be well-known, but can remain fit and strong throughout the tournament. Once the league starts, it would become clear whether their move is good or bad.
The marquee rule was introduced to draw the crowd to the different venues. While players like Nicolas Anelka and Alessandro Del Piero were able to grab the eyeballs, their age was a major hindrance in their process of staying fit.
NorthEast have taken a new step, utilising the new rule and in future more and more teams will follow suit as no owner would like to pay someone to sit and watch the games from the sidelines.