In Spain, Manuel Lanzarote played for a whole host of clubs, but only ever made the B teams of both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. But while the left winger did make the grade for reasonably successful spells at Real Zaragoza and Espanyol, it is in the Indian Super League (ISL) that he is enjoying perhaps the most satisfying reviews of what has to date been the career of a journeyman.
One reviewer of note who is particularly happy with his displays is former Manchester United flyer Steve Coppell, who is currently the coach at the ISL’s Kolkata-based franchise, ATK. And Coppell, who managed Manchester City but is perhaps best remembered for serving FOUR spells as head coach of Crystal Palace, paid tribute to Lanzarote’s display as his side chalked up a 1-0 victory over FC Pune City thanks to Gerson Vieira snatching the winner in the 82nd minute of the match.
The deserved but hard-fought win moves ATK to sixth spot in the table – Goa are top — with Pune firmly anchored to the foot of the standings. And the triumph plus the way in which Lanzarote went about his business pleased Coppell.
“I think that was his best performance. In possession, he’s terrific. You just sort of switch on when he has the ball because you know something is going to happen. But against Pune, he added different qualities to his game. He was dropping deeper, he was making passes, putting in good tackles. He was involved in a lot of things. He had a couple of set-piece opportunities and also hit the post. He invested himself a lot in the game. I think that’s the best way of putting it.”
Coppell was also happy to remark on the durability of his side coupled with the fact that they showed great desire to achieve the win. He added:
“I seem to remember not so long ago, we were conceding goals late in the game and people were saying we were not fit enough. So, you can see we’ve worked on our fitness. I think it was one of those games. To be fair to Pune, they had their selection problems. They made it difficult for us. There might have been the possibility of frustration creeping in, but we kept on going and, obviously, it was an important three points for us.”
As for the vanquished, Pradyum Reddy, who is the acting coach of Pune, takes heart from being able to field good quality academy players in the light of sidelined players through injury such as Marcelo Pereira, Diego Carlos and Emiliano Alfaro.
“I think we are in a tough position now in the league table. But you have to look at the positives. I think most teams in this league play with six Indian players, we’ve come out and put six under-23 boys out there. Some of our boys graduated from our academy and I’m very proud of their performance.
“I thought the circumstances were tough, and it’s a tough place to come. The boys were obviously a bit nervous to start with and made some mistakes. But over the course of the game, they were good. They can hold their heads high. I think they did themselves proud. The boys have done well to apply themselves to limit ATK to shots from outside the box in the first half. And even in the second half, that was their only clear-cut chance. I’m proud in the way the boys applied themselves.”