The most successful side in Indian Super League, Atletico de Kolkata are gearing up to defend their much-cherished title which they had won in the previous season beating Kerala Blasters in the final.
The franchise has parted ways with La Liga giants Atletico Madrid which has resulted in a rebranding of the team. They will now be knowns as 'ATK'.
According to the league rules, all the sides have released their players and are allowed to only hold on to minimum two players. The teams will take part in an auction from they can select their squads.
The Kolkata outfit has replaced Jose Molina as the chief coach and brought in former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham. They have also appointed former Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood as technical director.
Team owners Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Paresh today introduced the coaching members to media.
When asked about appointing Sheringham and Westwood, Goenka said, “Both the coaches are proved winners and are used to winning."
“We want to associate ourselves with proven winners and successful people. We want people who are not overawed by success."
"We had a conversation with Teddy and were highly impressed by how he wanted to go about ahead with the forthcoming season. It took us a little while to finalise the formalities. But now he is on board. Teddy is enthusiastic and committed to his work. Ashley has been a part of Indian football for 3 years. He led Bengaluru FC to 3 titles (2 I-Leagues and 1 Federation Cup."
He has experienced three great years in India and hopefully, he will [have] many more successful years to come.
Sheringham was asked about his thoughts on taking up a job in India to which he said, “Looking forward to being the coach of ATK. I have been told about the club and the crazy fans."
“Ashley and I will culminate a team which could win the league. I am really looking forward to the pressure. I am used such situations and have played under pressure when I was at Manchester United.
"On a longer league and the new format of the tournament, Westwood said: The new format of the league brings in new challenges and I am really looking forward to it. Having someone of Teddy’s calibre besides you is always an advantage. I want to watch and learn from him. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute to the team’s success."
The new gaffer also gave his inputs on taking over the reigning champions. He said: “It is exciting. Definitely adds certain pressure but I am ready for it. Have a learned a lot during my time at Manchester United and I am hopeful of good times.
Westwood said: "I am just here to advise. I will share my knowledge of Indian football. The head coach is the main man who answers the questions. The Indian players’ fitness is always a major concern especially compared to the foreign recruits who are way ahead."
On the Indian players’ fitness, Teddy said: "Fitness is very important in football. Players need to have the correct attributes to compete in any league."
The former Manchester United and England forward was asked about his knowledge of Indian football, to which replied: "Honestly I have no idea. I have spoken to the English contingency that has been here in the past. David James is one of them. He had a positive experience. He is willing to come back as well."
Atletico de Kolkata will have to fight it out in the city along side the heavy weights of Indian football Mohun Bagan and East Bengal this time as the ISL and I-League are set to run parallelly. It is definitely a challenge for the newbies of Kolkata football to match the popularity of the two sides.
Speaking about Bagan and East Bengal's competition, Sanjiv Goenka opined: "Both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are great clubs with great legacies. I have grown up idolising these two sides. We don't want to compete with anyone. They're Dadas and we are bacchas. We have our own fan base. They will help us to win more."