ISL 2018-19: Won't Repeat Hull City Half-time Tirade at FC Pune City, says New Coach Phil Brown
"No, I'm not going to be giving half-time team talks on the pitch," Phil Brown, the new FC Pune City manager said, followed by hearty laughter. "You don't have to worry about that".
The former Hull City manager, infamously, strode onto the pitch at half-time at the City of Manchester Stadium (Eastlands and now called the Etihad) and sat his players down in front of the away fans before ripping into them for a horrendous performance.
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If he sticks to his words, then Iain Hume, Marcelinho & Co can be assured of the comfort of an air-conditioned room for their half-time breaks.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Brown spoke at length about his role at Pune City, his ambitions and a squad that he thinks is much better than what the results have shown so far.
"We'll take it one game at a time. I'm sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn't go into the Manchester United job and tell his players they're going to win their first six games," Brown said.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Brown repeated the importance of just focusing on the next game. With six games to go in their ISL season, Pune find themselves on 11 points, nine adrift of qualification for the playoffs.
The former Swindon Town manager acknowledged the magnitude of the task that faces the Stallions, but also welcomed the opportunity. "The key to it all is that playoff qualification is still possible, as long as we have that, we'll strive to achieve it."
The 59-year-old also made it clear that he's in India for the long haul, and not as just another short-term fix. "I have had alternating cycles of five years at one club, and then one year at the next. I had one year before this at Swindon, so hopefully, that means five years in India."
Brown stressed on the importance of the next six games, and how he hopes to have these games set the foundations for his stint in Indian Football. "I'm an ambitious man, I want to do well here, and these six games together with the Super Cup will set the foundations, I hope."
The new man at the helm of Pune was also effusive in his praise for his predecessor Pradyum Reddy. After a slow start to his role as a caretaker following the dismissal of Miguel Angel Portugal, Reddy led the Stallions to three wins in their last five games. Brown was clear in saying that he's not going to change much from what Reddy did.
"The players are the same, the team environment is the same, I have come in to enhance that, why would I change something that has been working? The players have taken to Prad's methods too, no reason to change that."
When talking about his style and how he wanted his Pune side to play, Brown was clear. "The intensity is a way of life - the intensity of your training, the intensity of your work, your closing down, your football, it's more than just a buzzword."
Brown referenced Jurgen Klopp's Heavy-Metal Football at Liverpool as an example of a buzzword, but insisted that it all is an extension of high-intensity football, which is a way of life.
So, how does Brown plan on going about making the Pune miracle a reality?
"In the simplest of terms, my aim will be for us to score more goals and keep a clean sheet."
Simple enough, eh, Stallions?
The Englishman also spoke about the importance of technology, and in particular, the ones that will help in monitoring the aerobic ability of the players. He stressed on the necessity of the technology to help the team maintain the intensity that he wants them to.
Brown was also clear that he was going to build his team around the mercurial ability of Iain Hume and Marcelinho. "Iain is the all-time top goal scorer in this league, so we need to get him firing on all cylinders, and for that, we need to get Marcelinho in possession."
Brown was also not very concerned by the Brazilian's tendency to make some objectionable tackle at times. He was clear that he needed to ensure Marcelinho found the balance between his precocious talent and his discipline.
"For a talent like Marcelinho, sometimes you need to let him be. He's a precocious talent. He scores goals, he creates goals. So, we need to be mindful of the little baggage that comes with his ability to change games on his own," Brown said.
He also said that he's been hugely impressed with the quality of the players he's got at his disposal. "I also cannot wait for the National Team players to get back. We're at a high level already, and players of the quality of Ashique (Kuruniyan) and (goalkeeper) Vishal (Kaith) will only help increase that level."
Brown singled out Kuruniyan, in particular, as someone he couldn't wait to work with. "I watched him at the Asian Cup, and was hugely impressed. His endeavour has been superb, and helped India create a lot of chances. Sunil (Chhetri) brought the quality to the Indian side, but Ashique's endeavour was a key factor for India."
Brown said the Indian members of his coaching staff have stressed that Kuruniyan's best position is on the left flank, but that he was hugely happy with the fact that the young Keralite had an additional string to his bow.
So, will we see that earpiece which we associated with him during his time in England?
"Well, anything to make communication easier. If I need my earpiece, then we'd have done well, because its biggest use is when there are full stadia."
Manchester United fans might remember Brown as the man who sang with the Hull fans despite losing on the final day of the 2008-09 season, for keeping Hull's Premier League status safe.
Will he be singing and dancing to the tunes of the Balewadi drums? Phil Brown certainly hopes so. He's in this for the long haul.