Indian Super League Organisers Take Lessons from EPL

Inside the Locker Room

There’re two types of people in this world. The first type learns by watching, the second by studying, and the third by both.

The Indian Super League, blessedly, has decided to be the third type. Representatives of the ISL and its eight clubs had travelled to the UK to see how the English Premier League officials work. During the trip the Indian Super League organisers also studied the workings of clubs like Arsenal, Crystal Palace, and West Bromwich Albion.

The visit of the 23 man squad of Indian Super League organisers was a part of the strategic partnership agreement that the two leagues had signed before the inaugural season of the Indian Super League last year.

The actual idea was for the Indian Super League organisers to learn from the English Premier League organisers, which was exactly what the goal of this visit is.

What I Think the Indian Super League Organisers Went For

Indian Super League Organisers Visit Arsenal

Look at that grin! You could drive a bus through it. Its almost like he got a new movie deal…

The five day trip began on April 29th, 2015. While in the media the two contingents are spouting the usual platitudes, I see something deeper.

I believe the Indian Super League organisers have gone to the experts of the English Premier League with the express intention of learning how to transition the twin leagues of the Indian Super League and the I-League.

I don’t include John Abraham in that. Although, I may be doing injustice to him but if you see him in the photo, you can see the grin of sheer delight on his face. I think he got himself included in the contingent just so he could take a tour of the Emirates. Who can begrudge him that anyways? Lucky chump!

For the Indian Super League organisers, the 2014 edition was a massive success. Moreover, the way everyone seemed to have focused on grassroots development, it’s clear that that is the area where they feel they lack.

They are partly right of course but this also shows that the Indian Super League organisers didn’t think they needed any lessons in organising. The Indian private sector is very good at Event Management and, remember, the Indian Super League is largely a private affair.

Hopeful Short Term Fallout

Inside the Locker Room

Inside the Locker Room

In the short term, I have but one hope from this exchange of knowledge and knowhow – they will stagger the matches and put some gaps in the middles. The nonstop AK-47 of matches must stop. They aren’t only detrimental for poor little ISL fans and followers like me but also ruin the quality of the games being played.

If you ask me how the quick succession of matches ruins the quality of matches, consider the fact that all the ISL Marquee players are +30. Heck, English Premier League players at the top of their game would struggle to play every three days or so for three months flat. I swear we Indians are hell-bent on turning even our football league into a sweat shop being run by a pressgang. Sheesh…

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Arsenal and Man UTD Legends to Grace Indian Soil

Arsenal and Man UTD

Thierry Henry!!

Paul Scholes!!

The Neville Brothers!!

Cole and Yorke!!

Robert Pires!!

Ryan Giggs!!

David Seaman!!

Saha, Silvestre, Irwin, Parker, Butt!!!!

Aaaaahhh! I believe it’s time for football fans to go mad. I know I am. It seems that all these great names I have listed above will be gracing Indian soil.

Arsenal and Man UTD

Arsenal and Man UTD in India!

No, I have not invented a time machine. Neither have I figured out a way to enter an alternate universe where the Indian Super League is greater than English Premier League and I am the de facto manager of Arsenal. If pigs had wings…

What I have come across is information that these legends of the great game of football will be playing a couple of Masters Cup matches in Goa.

When? You ask me with your tongue lolling and drooling about like a football sycophant?

Don’t worry mine is dangling like an anteater too!

The games will occur in the first week of June. June 3 and June 7 to be precise.

The first match will supposedly take place at the Cooperage stadium of Mumbai City FC, while the second match will be hosted by the Nehru Stadium of FC Goa.

What’s The Gig about Arsenal and Man UTD Players in India?

Arsenal and Man UTD

Henry and Pires

While I don’t like to wonder about the guthli (the seed for all the foreigners here) while gobbling down the aam (that will be the mango around the seed), my journalistic sense tingles every time I give it a bye.

The news is that the Western India Football Association (WIFA) and Goa Football Association (GFA) have been directed by the Indo Global Foundation to prepare the facilities of the games.

Supposedly, they have actually been asked to make ‘elaborate arrangements’, keeping with the importance of the event.

I like this Indo Global Foundation already. They seem to know their football and seem to also have their priorities right i.e. football before politics. I wonder who they are though because I can’t find jack about them anywhere except for a barely fleshed out Facebook page.

If any one of you knows, kindly give me a heads-up. I’m very curious.

An Annual Football Masters Cup in India

Schole and Giggs

Schole and Giggs

Back to the story here – it seems that this event will be an annual affair, if you’re willing to believe Henry Menezes, the CEO of WIFA.

I am inclined to believe him simply because he revealed that his stadium has already been booked by the organisers. According to him, there will be a total of 32 ex – Arsenal and Man UTD players, of which 26 would have World Cup caps in their records.

The Indo Global Foundation chose to not reveal the names of the players citing the lame excuse that the ‘charm will be lost’. He did give away some information by stating that there will be 10 players at the level of ISL Marquee players. He went on to add that having a minimum of 100 caps is a loose prerequisite.

ISL Blog had earlier reported on the chances of Thierry Henry coming to India. Apparently, we were just off by the timing.

Still, the names we came up with above were leaked out. Smart strategy from the organisers that!

Now we look forwards to the first match, which is just under a month away!

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FC Goa 2015 Squad – Lucio to Be Their ISL Marquee Player?

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

FC Goa look all set to make the ISL 2015 season even better than their ISL 2014 season. The preparations have been fast-tracked which has resulted in the Goans almost on the verge of finalising their ISL 2015 squad. The highlight of moves being made in terms of FC Goa 2015 squad is that they may sign the Brazilian defender Lucio as their next ISL Marquee Player.

Who Is Lucio and What’s Will He Bring to FC Goa 2015 Squad?

Lucio boasts of a career that can make most footballers envious. He has won virtually everything there is to be won in a footballer’s career. His accolades include.

  • FIFA World Cup with Brazil (2002)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil (2005 and 2009)
  • UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • Coppa Italia with Inter Milan (2009-2010 and 2010-2011)
  • Serie A with Inter Milan (2009-2010)
  • DFB – Ligapokal or German League Cup with Bayern Munich (2004 and 2007)
  • DFB – Pokal or German Cup with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
  • Bundesliga with Bayern Munich (2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008)
Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio for FC Goa 2015 Squad

Lucio will bring a lot of experience to the FC Goa 2015 squad defence and will most probably by partnering Gregory Arnolin who had a wonderful debut Indian Super League season last time out.

The Brazilian is typically a no nonsense defender with a lot of upper body strength and a good leap off the ground. His ball control skills, while not legendary, are good enough for him to be a ball playing defender in the ISL.

At the age of 36, Lucio may not have a lot of speed, but he will look to compensate for that with his experience. Lucio also has a mean freekick on him.

Why Is Lucio Replacing Robert Pires as FC Goa’s ISL Marquee Player?

Robert Pires, FC Goa

Goodbye FC Goa

It comes as no surprise that FC Goa have decided on a new ISL Marquee Player as Robert Pires could only play eight games out of a total of 16.

In fact, if you assess Pires’s contributions in those eight games, it becomes clear why FC Goa’s pragmatic coach Zico chose to do without him and look to add Lucio to the FC Goa 2015 squad. Here are Pires’s stats.

  • Played eight games,
  • Didn’t complete those eight games and only played 561 minutes which is equivalent to just over six full games, and
  • Scored one goal and made no assists.

The impact of Robert Pires was limited on the pitch. These numbers aren’t surprising because at the age of 41, everyone knew that Pires was brought in for marketing reasons rather than footballing reasons.

Lucio or Riquelme; Zico Chooses

Juan Roman Riquelme

Juan Roman Riquelme

Zico was actually given a list of players who were interested in becoming ISL Marquee players for FC Goa 2015 squad. In the end, Zico shortlisted Lucio and Juan Roman Riquelme as potential member of FC Goa 2015 squad.

Those of you who’ve been following football for some time will remember Riquelme being brought to Europe by the resurgent Barcelona FC in 2002. Riquelme only played for Barcelona 30 times in three years before he was shipped to Villareal FC.

Riquelme actually made a name for himself with the Yellow Submarine. At Villareal Riquelme pulled strings from the midfield with Diego Forlan, who is being linked with Atletico De Kolkata, the most obvious beneficiary. Both would go on to become famous players from their countries and in Europe. Riquelme will be 37 years and is an attacking midfielder.

Riquelme’s age and the fact that he plays in midfield is probably why Zico chose to go with Lucio over him. Riquelme retired in 2011-2012 before making a comeback for his childhood team Boca Juniors. At the beginning of this Riquelme retired again but is still being connected to ISL as a potential ISL Marquee Player. Riquelme, by the way, also has a very good freekick on him.

I believe Zico made a wiser and much more informed choice in choosing Lucio over Riquelme for FC Goa 2015 sqaud. The reason for this is that the latter may not have much in the tank for the rigours of ISL. Lucio is a safer bet and has shown a keen interest in working with Zico.

Zico Key to Lucio’s Potential Arrival to Indian Shores

Zico, seeing the potential of his team, has decided to get a player who is only 36 and can contribute far more than Pires did at 36 to the FC Goa 2015 squad. It’s also a smart move to sign a central defender as the ISL Marquee Player because central defenders tend to have longer playing careers. Central defenders aren’t required to have a lot of stamina since they don’t have to run as much as midfielders who cover much greater areas.

For example, Paolo Maldini, the epitome of central defenders in recent history played at the top of the ladder till he was 41. Maldini was playing for AC Milan as late as 2009. He was born in 1968. Granted, players like Maldini come once in a lifetime but Lucio is also in the same mould. What’s better is that Lucio is only 36 and is still playing at the top of the league in Brazil. More importantly, Lucio looks to be very keen to work with the legendary coach Zico.

Mainstream media is reporting that Lucio already has a written offer in front of him. Moreover, it is expected that he will sign very soon, if he hasn’t already.

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