New challenge for Westwood

Bengaluru FC's English coach unveils his plans for the season

New challenge for Westwood

Having spent three seasons at Manchester United before serving as an assistant coach at Blackburn Rovers, Ashley Westwood made a surprise decision to the leave the European scene and join the newly-formed Bengaluru FC.

While the choice might be puzzling for many in a country where the standard of football is much lower, Westwood said he made the journey to India in a bid to strengthen his resume.

“I’ve been assistant manager at three championship clubs in England. I’ve always coached at a top-class first-level team. So the reason I’ve come to India is to add another dimension to my coaching skills,” the Bengaluru FC coach said on Saturday.
“It’s a different challenge from what I’ve faced in my career there. As a coach, it can only improve me because I’m doing something different from what I would be doing in England.

“If you just continued to coach at one single level in England for the next 15 years, you’re fairly one-dimensional. For me to go and seek different experiences can only broaden my horizon as a coach.”

After their unveiling last Saturday, Begaluru FC hit the strides from Monday, sweating it out at the Bangalore Football Stadium for hour-long practice session every day. Although it’s been just a week, Westwood said he’s happy with the current 17-member squad that has been pieced together.

“The first thing is to get the team organised and approach everything in a professional manner. We need to instill discipline, punctuality and a proper diet. I’ve also implemented a code of conduct where every player respects every other member in the team. The first thing I said on Monday when we began our first training session was three words -- professionalism, discipline and respect.

“We’ve got a combination of different players. What we wanted to do before we formed the team is leave around 5-6 slots. I plan to have a squad of around 25 members and in the coming weeks we will be filling up the remaining slots depending on what the needs are. We are not going to invite 50 players for trials, instead we would be testing a limited number in game situation that will help us judge them better,” added the 36-year-old.

Not short on motivation

Bengaluru FC will be immune to relegation from I-League this season but the Englishman said they won’t be short of motivation. “It may help from a company’s point of view but certainly not from a players’ or coaches’. Whether you are immune to relegation or not, you set your standards and you want to achieve it. When you step on the pitch there is a certain element of pride and respect you want to earn and I don’t think I want to compromise on that.”

Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC’s two foreign recruits will join the team from Monday. While Kenyan defender Curtis Osano checked into the City on Saturday, Liberian midfielder Johnny Menyongar is slated to arrive on Sunday, boosting the squad.

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