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6-min read

Indian Super League 2015: Battle of the managers

Subhasish Dutta | IBNLive.com

Updated:September 28, 2015, 9:17 AM IST
Indian Super League 2015: Battle of the managers
Image Courtesy: Francis Mascarenhas - (Indus Images)

From fighting egos to building strategies, a manager wears a crown of thorns and his job is far more complicated than one can imagine. It is not everybody's cup of tea to unwind the complexity of the game besides battling through constant media criticism. Players often run away with all the accolades but it is the manager who draws all behind-the-curtain strategies and is the orchestrator of what seems like a perfect finish. A manager not just has to look after his own team but also has to keep a track of the moves made by the opponents as it is he who has to bear the brunt if the team fails to perform.

The Indian Super League (ISL), in its one year of existence, has generated immense popularity in Asia to catch the attention of the world. In the first season itself, the league saw some of the top names, including Zico, Marco Materazzi, David James and Peter Ried, leading the bastion of eight teams. Now when the league heads into its second season, the teams have already began to show their strength in terms of attracting big names to their roster, including some of the top world class players as managers.

IBNLive takes a look at how this tactical battle of managers may pan out in the fight for two final spots in the title clash on December 20.

1. Antonio Lopez Habas (Atletico de Kolkata): Habas may have the capacity to start a fight in an empty house, but his positive tactics and commitment to bring through youngsters makes him one of the best coaches in the game. The Spaniard entirely suits the Kolkata culture with his penchant for drama. Habas successfully orchestrated ATK's triumph in the first season by bringing home the inaugural title. Having spent his entire playing career in Spain, Habas has over 20 years of coaching experience under his belt. He has served under the likes of Rafael Benitez and Bernd Schuster at Valencia and Malaga, respectively. As the coach of Bolivian national team, Habas appeared at two Copa America, where in 1995 he took them to the quarter-final stage.

More recently, Habas was the head of the youth setup at Atletico Madrid last season. Known for his strict discipline, he heads this tactical battle as the defending champion.

2. Roberto Carlos (Delhi Dynamos FC): The dead-ball specialist is alive and kicking at 42, and the Brazilian World Cup winner will turn out for the Delhi Dynamos besides managing the franchise in his debut season. Renowned for his powerful and curling free-kicks, the 'Galactico' won the UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Copa America, Cofederations Cup and the Super Cup and was widely regarded as one of the greatest left-back to have graced the game.

His watershed moment, though, was winning the FIFA World Cup for his national team at the Yokohama Stadium in Japan in 2002. Carlos' managerial experience includes stints with Turkish sides Sivasspor and Akhisar Belediyespor.

Indians have always been passionate about the game and Brazil has always enjoyed tremendous support here, so Carlos is expected to draw a lot of attention this time around with his tremendous aura.

3. Marco Materazzi (Chennaiyin FC): Chennaiyin FC have retained the 2006 Italian World Cup winner as their manager for the second season. Under the guidance of Materazzi, Chennaiyin finished top of the league stage in the inaugural edition and reached the semi-finals where the team lost to eventual runners-up Kerala Blasters. The Inter legend secured seven victories from 16 games, higher than any other team in the first edition of the ISL. As a player, the former five-time Serie A champion and Champions League winner made seven appearances in the ISL, with one assist and 14 successful tackles to his credit. This time Materazzi will hope that his team goes all the way this year.

4. Zico (FC Goa): Brazil's legendary No. 10 Zico is considered one of the greatest footballer of his generation and getting ranked eighth in the 1999 FIFA Player of the Century list is a testimony of the same. The Brazilian, often called the 'White Pele', will make a return for the ISL Season 2. Known as one of the most skillful finishers the game has ever seen, Zico was part of arguably the greatest Brazilian team in a World Cup in 1982.

Zico got his first taste of success when he led the Japanese national team to the AFC Asian Cup triumph in 2004. His spell at Fenerbahce was highly fruitful as he won the Turkish League and Super Cup in his first term in-charge. Under his command in the 2007-08 season, Fenerbahce progressed to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League.

In 2008, Zico went on to manage Uzbek side FC Bunyodkar with whom he won the domestic double. Zico then moved to CSKA Moscow but was fired from the managerial post in 2009 and was signed up by Greece's Olympiakos who he guided to the knockout stages of the Champions League. However, he was sacked in 2010. Zico was announced as the coach of the Iraq national football team in 2011 and stayed there for more than a year.

As the coach of FC Goa, Zico took his side to the semis before they lost to Atletico de Kolkata. In the second season, The Brazilian will hope for a better result.

5. Nicolas Anelka (Mumbai City FC): The former Premier League star is set to make a foray into coaching with Mumbai City FC. Anelka, now 36, will be seen in a dual role as the club's marquee player and manager, having played for the team during the league's first season. The former Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton, Chelsea, West Brom and PSG man scored two goals and made two assists during his stint in the first edition. The mercurial striker brings with him a wealth of experience and will look to better his side's second-last place finish.

6. David Platt (FC Pune City): The former England captain has been appointed as the new manager of FC Pune. The 48-year-old has been out of football since leaving his post as assistant to Roberto Mancini at Manchester City in 2013 but previously was in charge of Nottingham Forest and England Under-21s. Known as a strategist, Platt, who won 62 England caps, played for Aston Villa, Arsenal, Juventus, Sampdoria, Bari, Nottingham Forest and Crewe Alexandra.

7. Cesar Farias (NorthEast United FC): The north-east club roped in former Venezuelan national team manager Cesar Farias as their manager. The South American had a short stint in Kolkata when Venezuela played against the Lionel Messi-led Argentina in a friendly in September 2011. Farias also led Venezuela to the semi-finals of the Copa America in 2011.

Belonging to the new generation of dynamic young coaches, very tactically astute and hungry for success, Farias nearly achieved a first ever qualification with the Venezuelan national team for the FIFA World Cup 2010, in the most competitive qualifying zone. However, they missed out on the qualification by a mere two points. During his term as national team coach, he was also in charge of the U-20 Venezuelan National team. Under his guidance, the team qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2009.

In 2011, at the Copa America, he became the second coach in history to lead Venezuela to the knock-out stage and the very first to lead them to the semi-finals, losing only to Paraguay in a penalty shootout.

Overwhelmed by the passion for football in India, Farias has made his intentions to win the league this season very clear.

8. Peter Taylor (Kerala Blasters FC): The franchise, co-owned by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, has roped in former England player and coach Peter Taylor as their manager for this season. Kerala Blasters finished runners-up behind Atletico de Kolkata in the inaugural edition of the tournament last year and were managed by former England No. 1 David James. Taylor will work with the team's assistant coach Trevor Morgan. Taylor managed the England Under-20 team in 2013 and coached the England Under-21 team twice. He has also managed the senior England national team for a match. His coaching career has seen him manage several English clubs. Under Taylor's guidance, Kerala Blasters will aim to finish the mission that was halted by ATK at the 'Final' hurdle.

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