Yan Law, at the age of 26, became the youngest ever coach to manage a top tier Indian football club when he joined I-League side Punjab FC last season.
The young manager, who hails from Kolkata, had an impressive debut as head coach as Punjab finished the season in the top half of the league table.
Law spoke about how he got the coach’s role in Punjab and how he was sceptical about accepting such a big offer.
“I never expected to be a coach in an I-League club at that age. It is definitely a dream to coach a team in I-League and hopefully in ISL in the future. I never knew I would get the opportunity so early but all thanks to Ranjit Bajaj who believed in me even before I believed in myself. When he gave me the offer, I was quite sceptical about it because the team had barely saved relegation in the previous season. But he gave me the confidence,” the former Punjab FC coach told Goal.
“It was a phenomenal experience. I got to work with some of the best Indian players and some of the best foreigners in the country. We performed so well compared to the previous season. Also, I had to change the style of play for what Punjab is known for. Before it was more of direct football. And changing the style completely and getting appreciation for that was amazing. We had a seven-match unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, we had too many draws otherwise we surely had a shot at the title.”
The former Punjab FC coach suggested that he never faced any problem in handling older players, being a young coach, and he also complimented the Punjab players for being thorough professionals.
“People think that coaching is about handling a team but I believe it is more about handling individuals. Everybody has a different mentality and character so if you can handle individuals, then I think it is smooth sailing. Also the guys I worked with are thorough professionals and they respected me irrespective of my age on and off the field.”
After a decent season with the Punjab club, the Kolkata-born coach has returned to his home city and has taken charge of Mohammedan Sporting.
“When Mohammedan Sporting’s offer came, I thought this will be a different challenge because if I can get this team promoted to the I-League, it will be great.
“Mohammedan Sporting is one of the biggest clubs in Kolkata as well as in India and me being a Kolkata boy, I had always dreamt of coaching the three big clubs - East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting. So it was an easy choice when Mohammedan’s offer came to me. I can help this team create history.
“I had worked with the club before. I had joined them in 2018 as the Head of Youth Development and I had a contract till 2020. But when Punjab FC’s offer came last year, the club let me go and I am forever thankful to them.”
The Mohammedan coach made it clear that he will not settle for anything less than an I-League spot this time but he also remained cautious as the final round of the Second Division League has been shortened due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The second division this time is about only four or five matches so there is no margin for error. Every match is like a final. When I came in, I started signing proven players including the foreign contingent. Hopefully, we can take this team up and do well in the I-League,” said Law.
The former Punjab coach also suggested that while building the team he considered the I-League and not just the second division.
“When I was in talks with the club I told them about the players I wanted. I might be young but I have my own way of working. At Minerva, Ranjit Bajaj had let me sign players of my choice. So Mohammedan was also very open with that.
“The transfer window will be open for another 10 or 15 days after the second division is over so even if we qualify for the I-League there will be hardly any time for a couple of more signings. So I have made a squad thinking about the I-League and not just the second division. I am planning two steps ahead,” said Law.