Pune: One feels the positive vibe as soon as you enter the hotel room of FC Pune City’s new head coach Ranko Popovic, as he answers the door with a smile on his face, welcoming you inside his room.
His smile, the spring in his feet and the vibe makes you feel that he has already made Pune his home, as the club gears up for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).
The 50-year-old Serbian coach, who’s coached various teams in Spain, Japan and Thailand opened his heart about his latest stint with the city-based club, his playing philosophy and his impression about ongoing FIFA U-17 Wolrd Cup in an interaction with Sakal Times.
“I was actually surprised when FC Pune City contacted me for the coaching job, as I thought everything was done and dusted considering pre-season is approaching,” said the coach.
“I was in Japan when FC Pune City called, so I spoke with CEO of the club, Gaurav (Modwel) for over an hour and a half. During the conversation, I was impressed as personal relations are very important for my decision making. He invited me to come here and take a look at things, and that was the ice-breaking point,” he added, explaining about how he joined the club.
Popovic, who was born in a small town of Pec, then Yugoslavia, is known for his man-management and it reflects in his thoughts as he thinks that quality is everywhere, but the human factor is the what matters.
“Every player is a human first and has his private life. For example, a player is having a problem with his girlfriend, it can affect the entire group, and as a coach, I’m here to help them, not because of the interest of the group, but because we are a family,” he said.
Popovic, gesticulating, though not as frantic as Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, stressed that he expects his players to give 100 per cent every time.
“We give our everything, every time but if someone plays better than us, we will congratulate them, and look to learn the way to beat them next time. So, if we give 100 per cent you can lose but are not losers,” said the gaffer.
“I started playing the game for the love and passion for it. I would like to give that to my players so that they can enjoy the game, as well as people who come to watch,” the former FC Tokyo and Cerezo Osaka coach, renowned for working with young players said.
The jolly coach also noted that he will follow the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup. When asked about India’s opener against US, he observed that Indian youngsters lacked the experience of playing at the biggest stage.
Although, there is still some time for the ISL action to kick-off, FC Pune City will hope to make their mark on the tournament under the watchful eyes of dynamic Popovic.