Sunil's interview in TOI
Are we carrying on Bob Houghton's legacy?
Yes we are, because we are the same team. Almost the same set of players and the same support staff - Savio (Medeira) sir, Marcus (Pacheco) sir. It makes the work easier because we know what people want and what is expected of us.
Then, why let him go?
It's not for me to decide who stays and who goes. If you ask me, he was the best coach we have had. Whoever the coach is, my job is to talk to him, understand him and be a better player under him and give my best. Savio sir is doing a great job. We love playing under him.
What did you learn from Bob?
Bob (Houghton) used to tell me a striker should take four or five shots on target during a match. Now I am keeping those shots on target. When you are in good form, you keep hitting the target. You may have the best match but you may still not have the goals. But scoring is most important and it feels so good that I have been knocking them in. It really boosts the morale. What he did was made me aware of what I shouldn't do, rather than what I should do. He told me to cut down on unnecessary actions, like leaving the penalty box or holding on to the ball, making sure that I do things that are more important. The economy of touch and action, you may say, is what he instilled in me.
Are you playing the role that Bhutia played as a player and mentor?
With Baichung, it was extraordinary. Lot of things I do now is learnt from Baichung and Rennedy (Singh). I had an amazing time with them. Jeje is a fantastic talent. He has a good head on his shoulders. He adapts very quickly and I'm sure he has a great future. Yes, I have started doing that because that's the way I was brought up. Deepak (Mondal), Mahesh (Gawli), Rennedy and Baichung helped me immensely to grow as a player. Even off the field, they helped me evolve. The senior players in the team, including myself, are encouraging Jeje, Nirmal (Chhetri) and the new guys in the same way now. This is the way it was and it should be. It's a good atmosphere.
You too eager to make it abroad?
Well, it's not that I am too anxious. I just want to learn more. I am not saying that I am not improving in India, but after a point in time, it becomes stagnant. I have won the I-League with Dempo, but what next. As a player I also want to test my upper limit. How much can I achieve and learn that's my driving force. I am not unhappy. I am happy and proud to play for my country and my club Mohun Bagan. But I also want to learn more.
How was your experience with Kansas City Wizards?
With Kansas, I had a four-year deal. The initial two months were real tough. I had to adjust a lot. Then, things started looking up. I got starts in the US Cup and the match against Manchester United which we won. But then I had to come back for the Asian Cup. When it was over, the transfer window closed. So I couldn't go back even though I had a four-year deal. I had to sign for Mohun Bagan.
Wasn't your trip to Rangers a little unplanned?
To be honest, it was a little desperate on my side. I just wanted to take it. I knew it was just four days and they had a match in between but I was so desperate I just wanted to take the chance. I had a good interaction with Rangers manager Ally McCoist. There wasn't enough time for him to assess me and Jeje. But the good part is they said they are going to keep a tab on us.
McCoist has commented...
Yes, I have heard that. During summer, I will be a free player and let's see if they are still interested. I won't stop trying, that's for sure.
How about SAFF?
SAFF is a very tricky tournament. See, Nepal came here after training for three months. So have Afghanistan and Maldives. We didn't get that much time to prepare. But we have to win it. Otherwise, everyone will say, "Oh they can't even win the SAFF"! But it's good that we are winning matches with teams which are maybe a little better than us or worse.
Will it help our rankings?
This tournament won't help our rankings much. But, you know, we don't get to play many matches. When Bob was there, India U-23 played the SAFF. That's was the right thing to do and it was only possible because seniors had other engagements. The senior team needs at least 12 friendly matches a year.
Why did they allowed it that he leaved the team.. He really fitted as the coach of the team.. Just like what Sunil said he really had taught the team many things that make them more stronger team..