Robert Pires is probably best known for being part of the Invincible Arsenal side that went unbeaten in the English Premier League at the turn of the century, as well as being part of France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad.
Pires played for FC Goa after being tempted out of retirement for a final swansong and feels that the ISL is revolutionising the way football is thought about in India.
“The ISL is undoubtedly the biggest revolution in Indian football. Personally, I have great expectations from India. Playing for FC Goa was good fun, and it’s great to see people in India love football and closely follow the sport”.
But what are those great expectations, and how long is Pires prepared to give them? The Indian U17 side crashed out of the FIFA U17 World Cup last week, failing to win a point and Pires’ former club FC Goa kicked off their preseason with a 4-1 defeat to Spanish 3rd Division side FC Cartagena.
Chennaiyin FC have appointed former Liverpool goalkeeper as their goalkeeping coach for the upcoming season. Warner also played in the 2004 FA Cup Final for Millwall and has previously coached at Championship club Bolton Wanderers. He teams up with former Aston Villa manager John Gregory.
“I am delighted to have joined Chennaiyin’s coaching staff and grateful to the club and John Gregory for giving me this opportunity. I have already enjoyed working with the keepers here and look forward to help them develop and have a great season ahead,” said Warner.
Finally, the English Premier League are never slow to work out where some extra money can be made and all roads seem to point to the ISL currently. The EPL Managing Director, Richard Masters, is keen to get some of the tasty financial pie that the “frenzy” around the ISL appears to be creating in some quarters.
“We work very closely with the ISL and the AIFF to support the development of football in India, and to use interest in the Premier League to support the domestic game,” said Masters, really meaning…
“In the Premier League we are blessed to have some of the most popular and exciting clubs in the world in our competition.
“They do a fantastic job developing and acquiring talented and exciting players – the likes of Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to name a few – and that drives the interest in our clubs in India and across the world.”
The last bit there is key from the Premier League point of view. They will encourage Premier League sides to invite ISL sides to England for matches and encourage EPL sides to have preseason tours in India, because that will sell “the greatest show on Earth” to yet another part of the world – that said, India is already pretty big into the EPL but seeing their local ISL franchise play Manchester United might increase levels of interest further.
Let’s just hope that the ISL sides improve sufficiently to be able to compete in games against Premier League sides, eh? Beating sides like FC Cartagena would be a good start.