Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Carlos, John Arne Riise and Florent Malouda are a few of the big names who have been associated with Delhi Dynamos in the ISL over the past few years. These players may have bought in the star power, but all of them with the exception of Malouda often left the fans a bit frustrated with their performances on the field. The management seems to have learnt the lesson and is keen on getting things right this year.
The team unveiled former Real Madrid player Miguel Angel Portugal as the new head coach on Monday. Miguel managed the Real Madrid ‘C’ team and the Real Madrid ‘B’ team. He worked with Racing Santander and also served as a technical director of the Real Madrid senior team. He might not be the most high-profile coach but his work with youngsters stands out.
Speaking to the media, Miguel said he was excited to be a part of Delhi Dynamos and was looking forward to being a part of the Indian football journey. "India has great potential and the game is growing every day in the country. I have been following the I-league and the ISL closely, and have been doing my research. My experience of working with young players will be beneficial for me here,” he said.
Explaining his vision for the team, he promised that the Delhi fans will get to see their team play some exciting football. "The quality is here and you can see that. You have skilled coaches, and you can work with that. Football is more about playing with your mind and feet. If you can do that, you can be a good player," Miguel added, hinting that the team might not necessarily go for the star factor of a player.
Shakti Chauhan, who still remains the assistant coach and is likely to play a key role in the team management said he was surprised by the amount of knowledge Miguel had about Indian football. "He has seen a lot of videos, and there were many players whom even I didn't know about. I also told him few things I had in mind and we had an extensive talk. We plan to have a bigger pre-season this year to get the squad ready," he said.
Ashish Shah, CEO, Delhi Dynamos FC further added: “We are in constant discussion with Miguel over building the very best team here at the club. A key part of that is the decision to review all our options and examine a range of opportunities during the transfer window to build on the team from last season.”
Shah further added that the club will grow from bottom top rather than top bottom. "Delhi has a big market and is often wrongly accused of not being a football crazy city. There is a lot of passion for the game in the city and we will use that to make the brand Delhi Dynamos grow."
Dynamos also plan to have their own residential academy and a youth team soon. Dynamos have surprisingly decided not to retain its players with the club effectively pressing the reset button, despite doing commendably well in the past three years in ISL. The team reached the semi-final last year and was among the most exciting team to watch.
Rohan Sharma, director of the team said that it was a risk worth taking for the team. "There are so many good players in the draft and we will be up for them," he said.
"Not retaining any player doesn't mean we aren't interested in them. Souvik is a player that interests me a lot personally, we will keep an eye out for other players," he added.
Sharma is also optimistic of the team providing the next Indian star to the country. "We might not have a marquee face for now, but in the next 2-3 years it would be great if club could produce India's next star,” he said.
With the player draft around the corner, it will be interesting to see the kind of players Dynamos pick up to build the team. But by the looks of it, Delhi fans indeed have reasons to be excited.