FC Pune City are one of the two clubs which have gone through a complete overhaul of player and coaching staff. Gone is the Italian contingent of Bruno Cirillo, Daniele Magliocchetti, Emanuele Belardi and Davide Colomba -- led by his father and team manager Franco Colomba. In it's place comes a more proven group of Englishmen led by former Manchester City boss David Platt.
James Bailey, Roger Johnson, Nicky Shorey and Steve Simonsen have all joined in from England as Pune aim to bring some silverware to compliment its impression of being a sports-mad city. But it's not just these players -- Pune have signed a plethora of international and Indian stars as Tuncay Sanli, Adrian Mutu, Didier Zokora and Kalu Uche join forces with Jackichand Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Gouramangi Singh.
ISL 2014 flashback: FC Pune City were so unpredictable last season that a different version of them would turn up every match. One day they would lose 5-0 to Mumbai City FC (which finished seventh), and a week later would beat eventual semifinalists FC Goa 2-0. They lost 2-1 to Kerala Blasters at home and a week later thumped Atletico de Kolkata 3-1 away at Salt Lake.
It was a team with good individual players with former Greece captain Kostas Katsouranis and Juventus lengend David Trezeguet involved. Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant also joined mid-season but they never really hit top gear as they finished sixth and lost out on the semifinal spot by three points.
Kostas and Dudu Omagbeni sparkled and John Goossens promised a lot before a tournament-ending injury. In the end, it was manager Colomba's antics and wild celebrations that made more headlines than Pune's results.
Strengths: The depth of the squad, with two good players in every position, means that Pune will not be short of quality in a hectic schedule. The balance between Indians and foreigners is also evident. Platt has managed to keep gamebreaker Lenny Rodrigues in the side, along with winger Israil Gurung and right-back Pritam Kotal, who is now a regular for India.
At the same time, experienced heads like Shorey (who played for Reading in the Premier League), Johnson (who played for Birmingham City in the Premier League) and Diego Colotto (of Espanyol) will keep things tight at the back. They will be shielded by Ivory Coast legend Didier Zokora and this will leave the talented Eugeneson to work as playmaker.
Jackichand on the wings will be a livewire and will have the support of Mutu, Sanli and Uche. All in all, this looks quite ominous.
Weaknesses: On paper, none at all. One concern could be that their campaign will rely heavily on the start they make. Pune play four home games on the trot at the start of the tournament and play four of their last five matches away from home. If the start at home is bad for some reason, then they may buckle under fatigue and away game pressure when they'll ideally want to have home backing and momentum on their side. Platt must stress on winning at least three of their first four home games.
Best XI (4-3-3): Arindam Bhattacharya; Pritam Kotal, Roger Johnson, Gouramangi Singh, Nicky Shorey; Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Didier Zokora, Tuncay Sanli; Jackichand Singh, Adrian Mutu, Kalu Uche.
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Updated Date: Oct 05, 2015 15:32:11 IST