ISL 2020-21: Odisha FC’s Stuart Baxter – Set-play needs to be polished

The Odisha FC boss wants his side to be efficient as well as attractive this season…

Odisha FC defeated Hyderabad FC twice last season and Stuart Baxterw, ho took charge of the former, doesn’t believe that history would have any role to play on Monday when the two sides kick-start their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign on Monday.

“History doesn’t really help anybody. The Titanic (ship) sank and Liverpool won the league last season but none of it helps this year. We have got two games against them. They got new players, we have got new players. There are a lot of things changed, so we’ll approach this game based on not what could have been or what may be.”

The Kalinga Warriors have roped in the likes of Marcelinho, Diego Mauricio in attack and Baxter expects the foreigners to influence the young Indians in his squad. He mentioned that the team needs to build on their performance from last season and avoid making the same mistakes all over.

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“Relying on players is a very risky business. You have to be able to play without anybody (any particular player), if you can. Of course, our foreign players should be influential. One of the biggest influences I want them to have is to affect the Indian lads positively, encourage and help them to develop,” the Odisha coach continued.

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“If you look at last year’s performance, the coach (Josep Gombau) was here for two years and they set on a way to play. I watched a lot of the games before I came. A certain possession based football was developing, conceding more goals than the coach wanted and probably didn’t score as many on the transition. Set play also needs some polishing.”

Odisha FC players ISL 7

“We are hoping to build on what was done last year. I would like us to be efficient as well as attractive. That’s not an easy thing to do. So that will be our challenge and we will try and do our best.”

Expanding on the Indian options at hand, Baxter feels that it is up to the lads to pull up the socks and prove their mettle. He urged them to improve and show that they deserve to play at the top level.

“I think all of our Indian players are quite young. I don’t think we have got an experienced type of (Indian) player. So all of the young lads need to have a very steep learning curve and they can learn from people like Steven (Taylor), the actual games and from information from the coaching staff.

“Their challenge, despite not having played 10 seasons, [will be to] act as if they are experienced and play in an experienced way. Again, there, I want the balance to be efficient and effective,” he said.

Steven Taylor Odisha FC ISL 7

Odish FC skipper Steven Taylor looks forward to his first year in India and is eager to face his former Wellington Phoenix team-mates from the A-League.

“I think obviously, working under a lot of managers, you pick out the best bits and you try to bring that to the team as well. Obviously, under Stuart, with the experience that he has got, it’s going to develop my game and improve me as a player. It’s fantastic, especially for the young Indian boys and hopefully it will benefit them,” stated the former Newcastle United defender. 

“[I am looking forward to playing against] my ex-teammates David Williams, Roy Krishna (both ATK Mohun Bagan) and Gary Hooper (Kerala Blasters). If you look at what Roy and Williams have done out here last year, they were fantastic with top quality performance that got them the success.

“Gary Hooper’s CV speaks for itself. It will be a test and like I’ve seen in the Indian Super League, there is not going to be an easy game for myself or any defenders here. It will be an exciting (journey).”

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