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Our coaches, their game

Rajeeb Mukherjee and Gordon D’Costa spoke to coaches of I-League teams for their take on Euro 2008. They asked them five questions and everyone except East Bengal’s Manoranjan Bhattacharya took them all.

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2008 23:32 IST

The answers
(Mohun Bagan)
1. Earlier, players like Diego Maradona, Michel Platini or a Zinedine Zidane single-handedly changed the course of a match. But this Euro was all about team games. Teams like Turkey, Russia, Germany and Spain proved this. Portugal depended too much on Cristiano Ronaldo and failed. It was also about attacking football getting better of a negative defensive strategy. But I was disappointed that so few goals happened from set pieces.
2. Formation-wise, I noticed no difference between clubs and countries but the national pride makes a huge impact.
3. A system is not made by the coach. It depends a lot on the players he has at his disposal. Here, coaches can only come and try to adapt to a system which suits the players.
4. Spain. A very complete team.
5. Turkey vs Croatia.

(Air India)
1. Most of the coaches have been banking on youngsters. That’s because the game has changed a lot and fitness is now very important. Experience also counts, but if a player is not fit it’s of no use.
2. Firstly, club football is completely different. It’s better in one way or the other. Unlike clubs, the national teams here took time to settle down. Spain and Germany didn’t play all that well in the first phase, but they improved later and have gone the distance.
3. I have noticed quite a few coaches in India trying different tactics. But sadly, we don’t have players of the same calibre. We also try our best to change tactics according to the situation. If we are leading and want to win the match then we try to pack the defence. We do the same thing if we plan to play for a draw.
4. Spain. They are playing very open, attractive football. They are also scoring great goals. That’s exactly what spectators and television viewers want.
5. Turkey played like a team and fought back to clinch a late equaliser, before winning on penalties.

(Mahindra United)
1. Unfortunately I did not watch the initial rounds as I was out of the country. From whatever little I have seen, teams which had initial setback have bounced back strongly. Germany, Turkey and Russia had a loss in the group stage but made it to the semi-finals. I have learnt that it’s important to be focused in every match. Teams with stars who have already played a long league for their clubs, took it easy.
2. I have not noticed much difference. Most of the national teams played what formation the clubs play. Spain mostly played the normal 4-4-2 formation while Germany 4-3-3.
3. In India we don’t follow a certain pattern. Dempo, JCT and Churchill Brothers play the 4-4-2 system while Sporting Clube de Goa often prefer 3-5-2. The Kolkata clubs — East Bengal and Mohun Bagan — play according to the opponents. Different systems can work, but it depends on coaches as different coaches have their own system and they do try out different options to counter the opposition.
4. Portugal were my favourites before the start of the competition. But now I will be happy with whichever team wins. Spain have played good attacking football and I want them to do well, while Germany have showed great mental strength and the will to fight and win.
5. Turkey giving a good fight to the Germans and Spain demolishing Russia.

1. I think the crowd becomes an important factor in this kind of tournament. Moreover, lesser-fancied teams have shown that the gaps with bigger sides have narrowed considerably. That has been more because of an emphasis on team game.
2. There’s a whole lot of difference. Players spend time at clubs so there’s lot of understanding and commitment. But that’s missing in national teams. Moreover, it also takes time for players to adapt to the style of the national team.
3. I am a traditional and want to stick to the 4-4-2 system. To make changes you need players to adapt to the system.
4. Spain, because they are playing total football at present and has a great amount of mobility.
5. Turkey versus Germany semi-final.

1. Teams which were slow to take off in the initial stages showed a lot of improvement as the tournament progressed. Smaller nations too are coming off in a big way and challenging the domination of the fancied sides.
2. Club football involves lot of teamwork and it helps that players stay together which doesn’t happen in national teams. That in turn affects performance.
3. We can change the system when you have players who can adapt to it. Because it is players who make a system work and not coaches. Moreover, players at times don’t follow the coach’s suggestions and often bring their own baggage.
4. Spain. They are fast and have a lot of mobility. They are playing total football.
5. Spain-Russia semi-final.

(Sporting Clube de Goa)
1. The footballing giants fell on the way. It is nice to see that smaller nations are making huge progress and the effort they are putting in to football.
2. You have the best players in the national team, which has its own style of play. But it’s not possible in clubs, where players leave every other season and you have to start rebuilding.
3. It all depends on the players because they are ones who are going to make things happen on the field.
4. Spain, for they are playing with a lot of flair and conviction.
5. Turkey vs Germany semi-final.

1. Noticed a number of things. The way Russia played against Holland, they couldn’t replicate against Spain. Each match was different.
2. While in the national team you get the best players the country has to offer, it is different in clubs.
3. There’s nothing called a system, it’s just on paper. When the match starts everybody chips in and that’s how it works.
4. Germany. I just hope they can stop Spain’s attacking instincts.
5. Russia vs Holland, Italy vs France, Germany vs Portugal, Spain vs Russia.

(Churchill Brothers)
1. Spain have been perennial under-achievers. It is good to see that they are finally doing justice to their potential.
2. While there are players who do well at clubs, they have known to stumble at the international stage. It happened this year as well.
3. It all depends on the type of players the coach has.
4. Holland for attractive football and Germany for organisation.
5. The 2006 World Cup was all about tacticians. But this Euro, the teams played lot more open football. For once it was a tournament of players, where tactics took a back seat.

(United Sports Club)
1. Beside the usual passing and distribution, the game has been fantastic. It also showed a lot about fitness level of players.
2. Not that much, because for both club and country, the teams play a lot of pressing football.
3. In Europe, players have the same kind of fitness levels and body weight. Here it is different. We don’t have player-specific training programmes and that’s why we have to stick to a system that can be best suited for our conditions. But Bob Houghton has brought certain change to the 4-4-2 system and N.P. Pradeep is a vital cog in it.
4. Holland and Turkey. Holland for entertaining play and Turkey for determination and teamwork.
5. Russia vs Holland.

(Mohammedan Sporting)
1. That a team has to believe in itself. Turkey and Russia showed that even with limited resources you can go the distance with discipline and determination. This was a tournament that once again brought youth power to the fore.
2. Not much different barring the crowd, which brings a patriotic fervour.
3. The best system is one that suits players and change it according to the situation.
4. Turkey. They have been outstanding.
5. Turkey vs Germany semi-final.