Brdaric calls for patience, says team needs time to create identity

“There are decisions in football that you cannot understand. I have to process this first and then see what is next,” Thomas Brdaric had said after being relieved of his coaching duties at Albanian top-tier club KF Vllaznia.
Thomas Brdaric, CFC head coach
Thomas Brdaric, CFC head coachSaai

CHENNAI: “There are decisions in football that you cannot understand. I have to process this first and then see what is next,” Thomas Brdaric had said after being relieved of his coaching duties at Albanian top-tier club KF Vllaznia. The official announcement on March 14 came as a bombshell and Brdaric was justified in feeling hard done by.

After all, it was the German tactician who brought back smiles on the faces of the Vllaznia fans with Albanian Cup success in 202021 and a runner-up finish in the Albanian Championship the same season. But, a few weeks after bidding goodbye with a ‘Simply the best. Thank you’ note, the 47-year-old picked himself up and prepared for a new adventure.

That is when Chennaiyin FC, an Indian first division club which is without silverware since 2018, gave him a ring. Following positive conversations between the two parties, Chennaiyin opened the door to Brdaric on June 14, exactly three months after Vllaznia closed its own.

Knowing full well that the top brass expects him to take Chennaiyin – two-time Indian Super League title-winner that finished eighth in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons – back to the upper echelons, the former Germany international got down to business straight away. However, Brdaric, in a chat with DT Next on Saturday, called for patience. “Titles can be won only when we are patient. But, I am not here to waste time,” he said.

Besides talking about plans for the forthcoming season, Brdaric spoke on his style of coaching, the CFC squad, the Durand Cup and more.

EXCERPTS

On his departure from KF Vllaznia

I worked with passion at my previous club. We started from the bottom – ground zero. The challenge was tough. Matko Djarmati (current Chennaiyin FC assistant coach) was with me from the first day. We can be proud for turning Vllaznia into a special team. We made it to the Europa Conference League qualifiers [last year]. We were so close to completing a double. I had a great time there. As a coach, one has to learn about ups and downs. During our ups, we have a lot of friends. During our downs, we understand more about them.

On joining Chennaiyin FC

My family and I took time so as to get the power for a new challenge. At the right time, CFC presented an opportunity. The process moved at a fast pace with some interviews. We figured out that we wanted to work together.

On plans for the upcoming season

First of all, we need to have clear settings. A good strategy has to be in place. We are creating a good team which the players and the fans can identify with. We need time; that is why we started the pre-season early. We want our players to maintain good fitness and gain confidence. The players understand that we need to create an identity for the club. We need to have good guidelines for the season. The coaching staff have to build the team step by step. I like the way we are working together.

On how confident he is about succeeding at the club

We never know. One cannot just sleep on the bed and dream about achieving something. We have to work a lot; that is what I did when I was in Albania. One also needs a bit of luck. Staying positive in a situation like this helps. Titles can be won only when we are patient. We need to stay humble and understand how football works. But, I am not here to waste time. For me, the fans are very important. They know whether a team is working [well] or not. If the supporters feel well, I feel well too.

On Thomas Brdaric, the coach

I love my work and I live my work. I think that the players feel it. I am not a quiet guy who stands behind and observes what others are doing. I think that the team needs me. The team needs time because I cannot play (laughs).

On the CFC squad

The Indian players are eager; they like to work. I am giving them the support they need. The most important thing for me is to take them to the next level. The foreigners are here to make a difference; that is why we bring them to the club. We have to strike a balance while working together. When it comes to intensity of work, levels [of players] have been different so far. By the next week, all the players will be with us. We are likely to finalise our last foreign signing in a week. Once all the Indians and foreign players are here, we will sort out the team that will travel to Kolkata [for the Durand Cup starting next month].

On Rafael Crivellaro returning following a lengthy injury lay-off

I am banking on his abilities, but he needs to be fit. He knows that. I am not here to complain about his fitness. I am here to give him the support he needs. Technically, he is very good. He has a lot of abilities and skills. We need him as a player and as a human. But, his fitness will determine how long he plays [in matches].

On whether he plans to take a full-strength squad for the Durand Cup

I am here to achieve all our objectives. I want to win all the matches. In football, one cannot say ‘I am at 50 per cent because I am preparing for something else’. We have asked all our players to be prepared, irrespective of whether it is for a tournament like the Durand Cup or for the Championship (Indian Super League). We will target the best possible result every time.

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