I want to stay here and build something sustainable with FCPC says Phil Brown, new head coach
Phil Brown is expected to bring the club back into the top four of the Indian Super League (ISL) Season 5, with only six games to go
FC Pune City’s (FCPC) new head coach Phil Brown has a near impossible job to turn around the fortunes of the club. He is expected to bring the club back into the top four of the Indian Super League (ISL) Season 5, with only six games to go. Speaking to Pranav Shahaney, the Briton explained how he plans to achieve this goal and build a solid foundation for the Pune outfit.
It is your first time in the ISL and you have no time to settle. How will these circumstances impact your job?
I am really excited to be here. I am looking forward to work with the players and also our next fixture which is on February 2. It’s completely different here. The culture, the way people are, is completely different and I feel I’ve been welcomed here very well by the people, the FCPC staff and the players. The real test of a head coach is for him to establish a relationship with his players converting the bond leading to positive results.
When Gaurav Modwel, president, FCPC approached you, what did he have in mind in terms of a target after six games of Season 5? Is an extended contract in the pipeline?
He wants me to help the team qualify for the playoffs. The challenge is that we have got six games for this season (5) and on a personal note the challenge for me is to get a two or a three-year deal because I’ve not come here for a short term. Hopefully, we get success in the next few months and a long term deal will be on the table.
After managing solely in England, what prompted you to pick India as your first overseas destination?
I always wanted to coach abroad (out of England) and this has been my first real opportunity. I gave interviews for jobs abroad, but never really got the position. What I have seen so far is that this a project which can make me successful. I want to stay here and build something sustainable so that when I look back, I can be happy when I say that I was a part of the project.
Speaking of projects, we see clubs replacing their managers every three years in Europe while here at FC Pune City no coach has lasted longer than a season. What’s your take on it?
I don’t particularly believe the system of changing the manager frequently. Longevity is a key factor at football clubs and if that’s the case, then you have my interest. I am hopeful that I can change the managerial policy of FC Pune City. What makes me confident about myself for the position is the success stories back in England where a two-year contract suddenly became a three to four-year contract.
Of how much you’ve watched the ISL and the Indian players, what’s your take on the level of football here in the country?
My thoughts are very positive. The quality of the players has surprised me. I’ve watched the national team and the standard of the league players and it’s very good. Their attitude is good, they close down, they work hard and the number of foreign players we have will hopefully help us hurt the opposition.
In terms of developing players at the grassroots level, is everything in place, in your opinion, both at the club and national level?
I think it’s only a matter of time before Indian players play on the same level as European players. If the plan is to keep me for the long term then I can make changes to the academy and ensure that players aged 16 will break into the first team. At the moment it’s only a short term contract so I don’t know what needs to be done to get me a contract, but winning games will certainly help.
You were Sam Allardyce’s assistant manager in the past. He’s known to play a direct and pragmatic style of football. Is that something we can expect from you as well?
I wouldn’t say my footballing philosophy is totally different from Sam’s. Of course, you cannot totally get your philosophy across to the players until you take the reins and become a manager so when I took the Derby job, my style was a lot more fluid than his and there was a lot of passing. We find a way to win games; it’s not one-dimensional. I tell my players that there are three to four different ways to win a game. Ideally, we want to play good football, through the thirds and create a lot of chances for the four good strikers we have here.
It was a dismal performance by the national team during the Asia Cup despite signs of initial promise. What according to you went wrong?
I don’t think anything massively went wrong. In fact, in the first half against UAE, the team closed down well which gave them the convection to play good attacking football. Against Bahrain, they didn’t have the same impetus going forward. It looked like they were always going to concede because they were playing so defensive, deep in their own penalty box.
How much of an impact do wins over sides like Tottenham and Arsenal have on a manager and would you say they’ve been the two best results of your career?
I think you always enjoy wins such as the ones I got over Tottenham and Arsenal. All the experiences in the Premier League stood with me in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead. It’s a different time of football here so it will be a different type of challenge. But, the experience that I bring to the table will hopefully help the club succeed for the next six games.