Marco Materazzi: Stiven Mendoza didn't sleep with us; there's nothing to miss
“Stiven Mendoza didn’t sleep with us, there is nothing to miss.” Chennaiyin FC Marco Materazzi is known for not shying away and putting the team before anything. And it was no different when he took to the stage at his first pre-match press conference in Kolkata ahead of their opener for this season of the Indian Super League.
The two previous winners of the competition meet in the second game of the tournament at Kolkata on Sunday and the Italian manager established his ethos of learning from previous mistakes and putting the team above all when it all mattered. Materazzi will have an edge over the years being acquainted with the league for three years now. However, he will have to do without some familiar names that propelled the team to the Championship last year.
Also Read: List of all players in the respective teams
While Stiven Mendoza is currently plying his trade in the MLS, Burno Pelissari has made a move to the Delhi Dynamos. They also failed to bring back Elano, who was their marquee player for the last two seasons.
However, the former Inter Milan star doesn’t believe in the concept of a “key player” in the team. “We have a team and that’s what’s most important is the team. There is nothing called ‘key players’ for me. Last year we were able to show that we are a strong team. And I want to thank everyone who helped us win the Championship last year, especially Bruno (Pelissari), who is not with us anymore.”
Chennaiyin were the ones to knock out ATK last season in the semi-final and Kolkata will play their home games at the Rabindra Sarobar stadium, this year as the Salt Lake stadium, which is being renovated for the U17 World Cup.
However, the 43-year-old doesn’t see the prospect of playing on a much smaller pitch compared to the Salt Lake stadium as no problem at all. “In fact, I would like to thank whoever are working on the pitch. The pitch is in excellent condition. At the end of the day, the pitch is always the same. It’s 105x65m or 100x70m. All that matters in the quality of the pitch and nothing else.”
The Italian also felt that we should remember the ISL for the right reasons. An ugly spat occurred at the end of the final last year when players from both side clashed after a hotly contested final. In fact, Chennaiyin’s marquee player for last season, Elano was arrested and booked by the Goa police for allegedly assaulting one of FC Goa's owner.
However, the Italian feels that the tournament is one that should be remembered for the right things. "I want to concentrate on the game. What mattered, in the end, was that we played a good game. It was a partisan crowd and all of them wanted Goa to win. They were ecstatic till the 89th minute and then everything changed. It was something that occurred because of a 'spur of the moment' reaction. However, ISL is about football. It’s about developing football in India.
“When the ISL began two years back, this was the fourth most watched league in the world. Last year we took a step forward and became the third most watched league. There are so many positives to take away from the tournament. We shouldn’t concentrate on those isolated events.”
The Italian has been a world champion in 2006 and has won nearly everything there is to win as a player including the Champions League and the Serie A title on five different occasions. A top centre-back back in his playing days, he has been managed by some of the top managers including Marcelo Lippi and Roberto Mancini. However, the man from whom he derives a lot of inspiration and tactical nuances from is the current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
The two were together during his spell with Inter Milan, during which the club reached their greatest heights this century, culminating in a Champions League triumph in 2010.
“One of the greatest teachers is the game itself. You learn from the negatives and see that you don’t do those mistakes again. However, if I have to take a name, I will have to say Jose Mourinho and (Carlo) Mazzone have had a lot of imprints on my style. You also study the coaches who have made mistakes and learn how they have recovered. Those are great learning experiences as well.”
The Super Machans stormed the fort of Kolkata last time they met in the city, defeating them 3-0 in the first leg of the semi-final. Chennaiyin will hope for a repeat show of the game as they look start off their ISL season with a bang.