The tag of “head coach” rests easy with SC East Bengal’s interim head coach Rennedy Singh. He doesn’t really care about the word “interim”. Given his understanding of the game, the former India captain feels he can make a difference seating on the hot seat. And his urge to be a decision-maker is not something new.
Even during the days at the Tata Football Academy (TFA) — he spent six years in Jamshedpur as a trainee — Rennedy had a knack of knowing the nuances of the game.
“He used to pick my brain,” Ranjan Chowdhury, former technical director at TFA, said on Friday. And then during his India days under coaches Sukhwinder Singh and Bob Houghton, Rennedy’s knowledge of the game increased.
“I try to use what I learnt from Ranjan sir, Sukhi paaji and Bob,” Rennedy told The Telegraph on Friday. His used to be the first name Sukhwinder wrote on the India team sheet and Houghton always held him in high esteem. Rennedy’s first test as interim head coach will be on Tuesday when SC East Bengal take on the Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru.
“Right now the focus is on that match,” he said. Rennedy is also drawing inspiration from NorthEast United FC coach Khalid Jamil, the only full-time Indian coach in the ISL. “He is doing a great job, someone to look up to,” he said. Jamil’s NEUFC defeated SC East Bengal 2-0 on December 17.
That was when Jose Manuel Diaz was at the helm. Under the Spaniard SC East Bengal failed to register a win in ISL VIII. His replacement, albeit till the team management finds a pro-licence holding coach, brings forth the idea of appointing an Indian coach on a long-term basis.
“It should be made mandatory. Unless and until ISL teams appoint Indian coaches, our football will not improve. I haven’t seen any foreign coach making a difference in Indian football. But look at Sukhwinder Singh. He did wonders with the national team,” Chowdhury said.
Rennedy’s former TFA mate and present Bhowanipore FC coach Shankarlal Chakraborty said Indian coaches understand players’ psyche better. “We understand matters better than foreign coaches. See how Khalid is handling things. Rennedy, being a former player, will also do well.
“He knows how to react when things are not going well. For example Habas (Jose Antonio) tried the three-man defence in ATK Mohun Bagan. Indian players are not in sync with that. New coach Juan Ferrando is smart enough to understand that and adopted the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation. Only Subhas Bhowmick could successfully used the 3-5-2 in the early days of the new millennium,” Chakraborty said.
Rennedy was brilliant with dead-ball situations and a big fan of Japan international Shunsuke Nakamura. When India had gone for a preparatory camp to Barcelona in the summer of 2009, he made it a point to visit the Espanyol stadium where Nakamura had joined from the Scottish club Celtic. “Oh he was superb,” he said. Asked if he was giving special attention to dead-ball situations Rennedy said: “It’s something we are working on.”
Married in November, Rennedy burst out laughing when told may be his better half’s luck made him the interim head coach of SC East Bengal. “Could be,” he said still laughing.