By simply saying ‘we need him’, Bhaichung Bhutia gave the most ringing endorsement of national Bob Houghton.
“Let me put it this way. Coaching India doesn’t help Bob’s CV. He has a lot of options. But India will find it difficult to get another coach with such a standing. I hope this is resolved at the earliest and we continue to have him as coach,” India captain, told HT on Tuesday.
He was reacting to reports of Houghton wanting to step down. The AIFF has said Houghton, on contract till January 31, 2010, continues as coach but a clearer picture will emerge after the executive committee meeting on Friday. Now at home in Cape Town, Houghton, it was learnt, has spoken to AIFF president Praful Patel and will wait till the meeting before taking a decision.
“India should utilise his expertise, execute his ideas,” Bhutia said. “Remember, Bob’s not saying or doing this for his own good.” Told that one of Houghton’s reported grouse is his inability to get things done, Bhutia said: “Well, we must ask ourselves a few hard questions. We must ask whether we should continue preserving the history and tradition of our football or do things his way.
“It’ll be a hard decision but we must ask whether we should continue in the way we have and keep declining or try something new. For instance, we need to ask now whether top players should continue playing local leagues like it is now.”
Bhutia said Houghton’s the best coach he’s played under. “A player plays for himself, his family and then all things like country and club. With Bob the difference is that we play for him. When we lose, we feel bad for him. That’s what Bob’s done to us. And I think I can say this for most of my India teammates.”