As a vastly experienced manager, Phil Brown knows all about measuring success. After all, careers in football — be it as a player or as a head coach — live and die on results. And so, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that success in the Beautiful Game is all about winning, rather than losing. Or drawing, in some respects.
In a journeyman-type career managing in England with stints at clubs such as Bolton Wanderers, Derby County, Hull City and Preston North End, Brown has seen ups and downs. But it is the case that there have been more ups than downs during his spell as manager of Pune City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Finishing seventh isn’t necessarily seen as covering yourself in glory but the team have shown enough promise under Brown for the club to happily extend the manager’s reign. Back in March he penned a new two-year deal to head up the side and without doubt what helped his cause was the fact that Pune City enjoyed a well-deserved victory in the Maharashtra Derby — a 2-1 triumph over Mumbai City FC in the last game of the ISL campaign at their home ground, the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
In the match Adil Khan handed Pune the advantage in the 18th minute and then Robin Singh grabbed the second to seal the deal. Arnold Issoko’s late spot-kick gave the visitors a consolation goal but it was all too little, too late.
The victory gave Brown heart. In the 90 minutes he witnessed effort, desire and a bravery on the ball than left him delighted with the win and the change in attitude and performance since he took over at the helm in December of last year, shortly after being axed by Swindon Town.
Reflecting on his players’ endeavour, Brown said after that particular encounter: “I think the transformation is being down to the players. I looked for an honest performance which allows mistakes. If you make mistakes in a game of football, that’s going to happen. I credit the upturn in form to the players. This was a genuine, honest performance.
“Sometimes you can ask some players to do something different from what they normally do. I have never done that. Since I arrived, I’ve asked the players to do things that they are paid to do. We’ve got a 50 per cent win-ratio under me. We’ve now got 17 points from the last eight games, which is title-winning form. Tonight’s performance is purely down to honesty. I would like to thank the players for what they’ve done.”
Like any manager, Brown has had his fair share of injuries and suspensions with which to contend during his stint at Pune City but this has served only to allow him to run the rule over players who otherwise wouldn’t have necessarily been handed a chance.
He added: “Some of the big players were out with injuries and suspensions and allowed an opportunity for Mohammed Yasir, for Nikhil Poojary, for Gurtej Singh, and they took the opportunity well. For me, Gurtej was the Hero of the Match. Since December, he hasn’t played a game. I thought he was magnificent in this game.”