Calcutta: “You can’t change a Mini Cooper into a Ferrari.”
That’s the philosophy of Prayag United SC’s new Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie, who took charge of the team on Friday, a day before they face United Sikkim FC in an I-League encounter. He is aware of the expectations, but bypasses lofty promises and thus the Ferrari quote.
After arriving in the city in the wee hours, Schattorie, who has travelled widely through the Middle East and Africa on coaching assignments, was as fresh as the morning when he led his boys to practice, at the Central Park ground.
Keeping up with the tradition of most of the city clubs, United SC have tinkered with their coaching team midway into the season. While they can claim that Schattorie’s predecessor, Sanjoy Sen, was not asked to leave and that he was the one who refused to work with the Dutchman, it is certainly unfair on the players.
“Any coach who tries to change the style of a team rightaway will not succeed… I will not impose my style on them at the moment. I will take the advice of my coaching team and then select the best possible XI,” Schattorie assured questioners who felt that it would be difficult for the players to adapt to a new style quickly. For the record, Schattorie, like millions, likes Barcelona’s style of play and usually appoints a 4-3-3 system in his team.
Under the circumstances, it’s a blessing that United have USFC as the immediate opponents. The I-League debutant club is not among the elite and will also be without Bhaichung Bhutia (serving suspension for a red card in the last match).
They will also miss Sandesh Jhingan, Budhiram Tudu and Raju Debnath. United, having lost their last match to Lajong FC, are obviously keen to be counted among winners again. So, with coach, without coach, new coach… On Saturday, the Ranty Martins have the best chance of returning to winning ways.
To the home team’s advantage, Schattorie will be at the bench to direct his wards against USFC. The man who believes that “football is a process and not a product”, prescribed patience for results to come. “Even Jose Mourinho, one of the finest managers I have seen, couldn’t give Real Madrid success from his very first day at office… You’ll have to be patient. I’m not looking for an excuse… I will do whatever is needed,” he said.
With stints in as many as six countries — the Netherlands, Ghana, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — the coach has done his homework before taking up the Indian job.
“I have spoken to Rob Bann (technical director, Indian football) and Wim Koevermans (India coach), and have got an idea about Indian football… Though not much. Dutch people are traditionally adventurous and I liked this challenge… So I’m here,” Schattorie explained his endeavour.
Coming back to the match preview, Schattorie expects Carlos Hernandez, one of the best players in the side, to give something “extra” to the team. After practice on Friday, he had a separate chat with Costa Rican. So do not be surprised if you see eager-than-usual Hernandez on Saturday.