ISL: Steve Coppell - ATK have given me star players to work with!
Former England and Manchester United winger Steve Coppell will continue his Indian adventure with a third stint as head coach in the upcoming season of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Having led Jamshedpur FC to a fifth-place finish in its maiden season in the ISL last season along with helping Kerala Blasters to a runner-up finish in the 2016 edition, Coppell will now take charge of his third club in three years after agreeing to a deal with Kolkata's ATK.
When asked if there was a particular reason he had changed clubs so often, Coppell told Goal: “I am not searching for anything. I found what I wanted in Kerala. But there were some external reasons for which I could not extend my stay with them. Then Jamshedpur came knocking with their offer.
“I signed a one year contract with them. I completed my contractual obligations. After that, I thought my Indian journey had come to an end. Then ATK came up to me. I had a chat with their management and then I decided to try my hand.”
Two-time ISL champions ATK endured an abysmal campaign in the most recent edition where they finished a lowly ninth amongst the 10 teams. The Kolkata outfit sacked head coach Teddy Sheringham midway through the competition to hand over the reins to technical director Ashley Westwood but eventually finished the season with star-striker Robbie Keane in a role of player-cum-coach.
Despite that horror show, Coppell sees plenty of potential in the Kolkata outfit.
“I have played against ATK a couple of times during my time in ISL. They had a dismal year but we should not forget that they are two-time ISL champions as well. I see a lot of potential in the club. And after I spoke with the club owners I got my appetite once again to return to India and take up the job. I tell you it’s addictive,” the Englishman stated.
The 62-year-old also shed light on his reasons for not continuing with the Jamshedpur club after just one season in charge.
“It (Jamshedpur) was a new franchise. It had just been established. I had a great experience working with the club. It was the right kind of change I wanted after working with Kerala. But after completing my contract, I thought I won't come to India. A new franchise has its own challenges. After the season ended I thought it was time that a new pair of eyes had a look at it even though they did come up with an offer for me,” Coppell explained.
With ATK having made some big moves in the transfer market of late, the newly appointed coach expressed his excitement at the task at hand while admitting that he had not been consulted ahead of the transfer moves.
He also mentioned that some of the signings did not have a great season last time around.
“It looks to be a competitive squad. I feel some players have underachieved in the previous season. I was not consulted at all while the new signings were made. But I have no problem at all with the squad. There was a small window after the season where most clubs were active in the market. ATK was no different. The management has complete faith in me. They have given me the star players to work with. Now the ball is in my court,” a confident Coppell stated.
“We had a meeting with the team management in the last two days. We are still on the look-out. We are hoping to make some signings within the next two weeks,” he added on the subject of overseas players’ recruitments.
Steve Coppell's sides normally travel to Thailand as was seen during his stints with Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC. And he plans the same for ATK as well. “Yes, we are going to Thailand. We have to see when the weather is good there. We are yet to decide on dates. First, we should get a clear idea when ISL starts and then we can decide on the tour dates.”