ISL Match Preview: FC Pune Manager On Facing Northeast United

FC Pune’s Manager, Franco Colomba has stated before his team’s home game against Northeast United that his ‘most important focus is equilibrium in the team’. Just before saying that the manager said that he tries to play players with ‘more experience more often’ and that he changes ‘the team according to the situation’.

Is it only me that sees a certain contradiction to what Colomba is saying? Aren’t ‘equilibrium in the team and changing ‘the team according to the situation’ mutually exclusive of each other.

How Colomba’s Statements are Mutually Exclusive

Franco Colomba, FC Pune

Franco Colomba, FC Pune

I mean if you change the team again and again then how can you expect players of multiple nationalities, multiple experience levels, multiple ages, and multiple skill levels to adapt to each other if you don’t give them a run out? It’s worth mentioning that Blanco has had his team play three different formations in the last three matches of which two were losses.

Is it any wonder that the team is currently languishing at the bottom of the ISL table and has a GD of -4 from only 4 games? They’ve let in 7 and only scored 3. To turn this around, Colomba needs to stop changing his team’s composition and style drastically from one match to another. Fine, there is benefit in surprising the opponent but there’s something to be said for not surprising your own players day in day out.

How are they supposed to get to know each other? The element that jumps out clearly about FC Pune is that they’re not defending properly. After all, they’ve shipped 7 goals so far. What part of a football team needs the most familiarity to work properly? The defence, of course! How does the defence get that familiarity? By playing with the same players regularly. Is it any wonder? I ask you.

FC Pune can Still Turn Things Around!

FC Pune vs. Northeast UTDHowever, all is not lost. Colomba’s team still has an opportunity to turn things around. Although they prop up the table, they still have 4 points from 4 matches. With a win today, they can actually climb 4 spots in the table to reach the 4th spot! This is even more significant if you consider that FC Pune is only one of 2 teams who’ve played one match less than others in the league, the other being Chennaiyin FC with their rampaging Elano.

Colomba is right about one thing, though. The squeezing of so many matches into a period of just more than three months is bound to have an impact on the quality of the games sooner or later. He says, “Playing two games in the space of four days is tough”, and he is very right. Managers of the high quality football leagues in the UK, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain have a fit every time their teams have to play 3 games in a span of ten days. Oh and btw, those are leagues with teams whose star players are not in the twilights of their careers. Northeast United will be FC Pune’s 3rd game in 8 days.

The Problem of ISL Schedule Exists for Everyone

When Mourinho found out that they're making his team play 3 matchs in 6 days (You remember XPac's trademark sign in WWE?)

When Mourinho found out that they’re making his team play 3 matchs in 6 days (You remember XPac’s trademark sign in WWE?)

Northeast United aren’t strangers to this either. Their first 3 games were played within a period of 6 days! Can you imagine the likes of Guardiola, Ancelotti, Van Gaal, and, god forbid, Mourinho in similar situations?

They’ll rant, rave, and mouth off at everyone around them till no one needs a bath due to all the mist in the air and spittle in the hairs. That’s enough to make anyone have the heebie-jeebies and a severe case of what is commonly known as ‘the shits’.

The schedule may not be ideal for the teams but it’s perfect for us fans. Games coming thick and fast with single day reprieves. As much as I love to write, I haven’t even been able to fix my routine enough to watch every match and give you folks match reports for every game.

It doesn’t help the schedule that My Lady ISLblog is in the midst of a Diwali drive (that’s spring cleaning for you foreigners) in the house and heavy things need to be lifted along with heavy traffic negotiated. Yes, my lady, I’ll be right over…

My Predictions for FC Pune vs. Northeast United

Northeast United, however, seemed be handling their tough schedule much better than others. This is especially surprising because they have a high press, high tempo, quick counterattack strategy. I do like their strategy. They remind me slightly of the last world cup’s Germany in setup and gameplay. Even though Koke is having the kind of impact that Kroos had for Germany, his overall skill level or age is not comparable so that reflects in the team on the ground. I still like their setup and the verve with which they play. I guess you’ve figured out that I am pegging Northeast for the win in this game. I think they’re the better team even if FC Pune has Trezeguet. I expect Northeast to score at least 2 goals, possibly three and only allow one. So, 1 – 3 or 1 – 2 for me and no, I won’t just pick one.

FC Pune can still surprise us. There are three things that need to happen if FC Pune are to have any hope of a win this game. The first is that they need to leverage the home support which is unlikely because this is the first edition of ISL and us Indians haven’t really taken to our city teams yet. The second is that Colomba needs to figure out what he wants his team to be like at the end of the day and the third is that Trezeguet needs to be supplied properly. Chances could improve even further if Katsouranis is able to prevent Northeast United from breaking every time his team turns possession over.

Whatever happens, it would be an interesting. You won’t get the match report from me for this one… again. Sigh… This is why I wrote this preview like thing.

My final thoughts are that Colomba seems to be a manager trying to find the right blend for his team. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t find the right mix for his team soon, he may feel like you would if someone gave you a mix of ten puzzles, each with 100 separate pieces i.e. flabbergasted enough to have drool drip down to your chin. And Colomba would feel like this for the rest of the season.