Indian Football: 3 managers who can replace Stephen Constantine
They fought valiantly, fought till their last stretch and till their last breath, but unfortunately, a power-packed Indian defense led by Sandesh Jhingan couldn’t muster a point against Bahrain and thereby seal their berth in the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup. It was frustrating for the fans, the players and for Stephen Constantine, who announced that he is quitting his role as manager for the Indian national team after the game.
While a draw was all they needed given that the hosts the United Arab Emirates had held Thailand, skipper for the day Pronay Halder clipped a Bahraini shirt, which led to their nemesis and ultimately, the resignation of Stephen Constantine, for the second time as the head coach of India.
The Englishman’s photochromic lenses too weren’t good enough to hide his tears as he announced:
“I have been here for four years. My objective from day one was to qualify for the Asian Cup and we have done that. I think my cycle is finished. I did what I was asked. It is time for me to move on.”
Despite drawing mixed opinions from the learned observers of Indian football, Constantine delivered and masterminded one of the brightest eras of the beautiful game in the country.
One on side, they broke into the top 100 sides of the world, according to FIFA rankings, qualified for the Asian Cup and displayed bold performances against the likes of China and Jordan, while on the other, a rather static 4-4-2 system coupled with the reluctance to include in-form candidates to the squad fuelled the anger of many.
Nevertheless, India is a force to reckon with in Asia, having thumped Thailand in the opening group stage fixture and successfully announcing themselves as a force in Indian football.
Now, ahead of a new era, let’s analyze who could fill in the big boots of Constantine, without further ado.
1. Ashley Westwood
The former Bengaluru FC and ATK boss are tipped by many as a favorite to replace Constantine. Despite having no prior knowledge of Indian football, Westwood arrived at the sub-continent and infused a unique work ethic at BFC; something that will always go down as the engine to their current status as a feared club in the ISL. With him at the helm, the South Indian club won 2 I-League titles in their first 3 seasons at the top-flight of Indian football.
Given his energetic, expansive brand of football and a healthy relationship with the Indian players, it wouldn’t be a bad option to get him on board. The likes of Sunil Chhetri, Halicharan Narzary, Udanta Singh and Gurpreet Singh would equally enjoy working under him again, and the fans would enjoy their football a little bit more as well.
Albert Roca, the present U-23 coach of the national Chinese team, is another candidate for the hot seat. He’s someone more proven in terms of silverware and seasonal success, as he led Bengaluru FC to the finals of the prestigious AFC Cup in 2016. Not to mention, the Blues lifted the Federation Cup under his stewardship as well.
He’s someone more stubborn in terms of tactical discipline and defensive organization, but without a doubt, the man’s got ample knowledge of the football that is played in India. His possession-based setup is something that could bring the best out of the forward for sure. He had been an understudy to Westwood at Bengaluru FC, but his style is markedly different than the British manager. A bit of Spanish flair in Indian football would be quite exciting, right?
Pereira is one of the most celebrated figures in Goa for his services. Not only is he a man with astute knowledge of the transfer targets and tactics, but also someone who can make every player run the extra yard. His in-depth understanding of the game has reaped wonders for FC Goa as well, where is currently serving as an assistant manager. The Gaurs are easily on one of the most exciting sides in the ISL this season.
It is also safe to say that almost everything he’s touched in the I-League has turned into gold. The 56-year-old’s time at Salgaocar and Pune FC saw him earn plaudits for his consistency and the team’s attacking prowess. He has consistently delivered despite not always having great resources at his disposal, so that is a huge factor in his favor.
Should the committee look for a thinking cap from their own land, Derrick Pereira will be the frontrunner.
Who do you think should be appointed as the next manager of the Indian football team?