FC Pune City: Flattering to deceive... Pop hangover
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FC Pune City: Flattering to deceive... Pop hangover

This season, after the sacking of Miguel Angel Portugal due to three straight defeats, Pradhyum Reddy has managed to steady the ship from his interim manager position, but 30 points appears to be a long shot with only six league games to go.

pune Updated: Dec 28, 2018 17:50 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
FC Pune,City,Flattering to deceive
Kamaljit Singh of FC Pune City saves a goal during match 51 of the Hero Indian Super League 2018 between Kerala Blasters FC and FC Pune City held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on December 7.(VIPIN PAWAR/ISL)

How much a year can change. After soaring the highs of the Indian Super League, coming within touching distance of making the final of the competition, FC Pune City ended the 2017/18 campaign on a high despite being knocked out at the penultimate hurdle. A semi-final finish for a side that had not finished in the top four for the previous three seasons proved to be a miracle by the man at the helm - Ranko Popovic.

Sometimes over the top and controversial, the Serb had a perfect idea of how dressing rooms are controlled and seemed to have a grasp on the best way to deal with six-month league and knockout tournaments. His players got the adequate amount of rest whenever possible, which saw his side suffer very few injuries over the course of the campaign, en route to amassing 30 points in 18 games.

This season, after the sacking of Miguel Angel Portugal due to three straight defeats, Pradhyum Reddy has managed to steady the ship from his interim manager position, but 30 points appears to be a long shot with only six league games to go. Of course, getting top four is imperative, but the Stallions will have to rely on a nine point swing between themselves and fourth-placed NorthEast United and hope that results in other matches go their way.

Despite Reddy’s solid performances as the interim number one, sources close to the club have informed Hindustan Times that they are not considering to make him the first permanent Indian ISL manager, and are looking for overseas head coaches, preferably ones that have prior experience of managing in the Indian top tier.

Pradhyum Reddy: “I think if you asked anyone at the start of the season, no one would’ve thought that two of last season’s semi-finalists would be sitting in this position. We find ourselves in a position that we don’t want to be in and it’s our responsibility to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in. I think every game for the last five games is a do or die because three points can really propel you up the table and bridge the gap between the teams above you.”

Orange Army

Ameet Deosthale: “Last year we saw our team on a dream run with all the gameplay aspects neatly parked into perspective. Opposition teams also feared to play us as we became a force to be reckoned with. This was all thanks to the strict supervision of our then head coach Ranko Popovic.

However, this year it’s a dismal showing altogether with the pre-season in Goa fetching us no results, the tactics of the head coach Miguel Angel Portugal forcing the players to reverse and switch their tactics and play a game which they aren’t accustomed to. This is eventually what led the team towards a slump even though our side was the best on paper.

That being said, we are down but not out. We still have six games to go after the international break. We have beaten top placed teams like Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa bringing us from 10th position to the 7th position which will should lay the foundations for a promising start to 2019 under the impeccable leadership of our interim coach Pradhyum Reddy.”

Aniket Jadhav: “There’s an old footballing cliche that goes along the lines of saying that the game is full of surprises, and it perfectly sums up how Pune City’s season has been. It also lays emphasis on the need of a perfect contract system for the players and young foreign players in the team.”

Akshay Amritanshu: “Last year was of course a dream run and best ever performance of the Stallions but just to remind everyone, it’s still not over. I believe in our players as they have the right mentality to rise after they fall and we know nothing is impossible.

It’s tough but it’s still not over as our Stallions will not give in so easily. As fans, we will ensure to back them to achieve what we did last year and we will encourage them to register many more comeback victories for us in the future.”

First Published: Dec 28, 2018 17:49 IST