Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell feels managing a team in the Hero Indian Super League and taking them to the top is one of the biggest challenges for any manager in the world.
Kerala Blasters, co-owned by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, finished at the bottom of the eight-team table last season and placed their trust in the hands of the experienced England manager.
Coppell’s side only has five points from the first five matches and the former Crystal Palace and Reading boss explained just how big a challenge he has at hand.
“This is the biggest challenge for any manager because you are more or less given a squad of players and don’t really have a great deal of say in the selection of the squad. You have a small say. We have players from France, Spain, Africa and obviously Indians. You have a combination of all the coaches (style) and you have to try and create a style of play which suits a majority of those players. Then you have to be successful,” Coppell said ahead of his team’s next round fixture against Zico’s FC Goa in Goa.
Coppell’s comments could be construed as over the top but the former Manchester United winger surely knew what he was saying.
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“In 15 weeks, I think this is one of the biggest challenges in world football. That sounds overtly dramatic but I think it is. Not just for me but for the whole organisation to try and get things right,” he said.
Coppell is the third English manager for Kerala Blasters, following the stint of former Leicester City boss Peter Taylor, who took charge of the club last season, and ex-England goalkepeer David James, who took the team to the final in its inaugural edition two years ago.
“My experience here has been great. That’s based on the people. Wherever we have been, everyone has been friendly and tried to help as much as possible. The travelling can be difficult but again people have made it easy for us. The whole experience has been terrific so far,” said Coppell.
Kerala Blasters play their home matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi which draws attendances of 55,000 for each home game. The passionate supporters whip up a frenzy, although Coppell believes the home atmosphere, given how multipurpose stadiums are built here, is not as intimidating as back home in England.
“There are not too many stadiums (here) which are like English stadiums where I am used to. They are close and intimidating. Quite a few here have running tracks around or the supporters are quite a long way away. So it’s not as intimidating as in England,” said Coppell.