‘Big E’ Discusses Recent Form, Personal Performance And The Support From The Stands
Erik Paartalu has made a more than a quick impact in the 2017-18 edition of the Indian Super League. A defensive midfielder by trade, the Aussie’s aerial prowess has seen him tower above rival defenses and find the back of the net three times in three games so far. In uncharted territory as a ‘top-scorer’ in the team, Erik’s abilities have definitely provided an extra dimension to the Blues’ attacking line.
Ahead of a crucial game against NorthEast United on Friday, we sat down with the man who was voted Fans’ Player of the Month (November) for a quick chat on the game in Goa, his goals, and the incredible support that has come from the Blues’ faithful.
It was a tough game in Goa and we ended on the wrong side of the 4-3 result. What are the positives that the team has picked up?
I think the biggest positive out of the FC Goa game was that we scored three goals away from home. We are creating chances and have the quality to finish them off, so I think the other teams will be threatened with that. But in saying that, it was a pretty poor performance especially in the first half. We let ourselves down by not keeping the ball in the right ways, losing possession too easily. They pressed well but I think we couldn’t keep the ball well enough.
The Boss mentioned it was important to get a reaction in the second half and equally important to react fast, and we managed that levelling scores inside 15 minutes of restart. What changed at the breather?
At half time we were getting something like a hair dryer treatment which we thoroughly deserved because we didn’t start well. But the response was great. I got a header back on a set piece and that’s the quality of our team, we can score from any area of the pitch. We work hard on the set pieces and hopefully it’s a common trend for the rest of the season. We get back into the game with that goal and Miku follows it up with a great one and it’s 3-3 with half an hour to go. Then we think, do we go for a point or a win? But we’re not really a team that goes for just a point, particularly in this short league. You can’t really sit back and take draws, you want to get wins. We made a mistake with the fourth goal as we played a high line and got caught out and punished and we couldn’t get back into the game there on.
Up next is another tough away trip to NorthEast United in Guwahati. How’s the team working to pick themselves up after a disappointing result?
I think our team is built in a way where we’re hungry and ambitious for all the games. I just think with the Goa game we didn’t start well enough so with the NorthEast United game we must start well and get a foothold. If we do that, then I don’t think there are many teams that can live with us. Especially going forward with attacking, we’ve got a great side. If we start the first half well, we expect to see a big response this week.
The fans have been amazing, haven’t they?
You don’t know how things will pan out in football, particularly when you move to a different country, and play a different league. But since I’ve been here, I’ve been welcomed with open arms particularly by the supporters and it has made my job easier. It motivates me to go out and put in a performance when you see that they come in numbers and chant your name. It’s a great honour, but it’s still a long way to go. If we can get ourselves into the top-4 it’ll be a great season, and the personal accolades will come if you keep doing well with the team.
You’ve scored three times with your head so far, all on set pieces. What’s the story there?
Headers is my strength, but yeah, I would love to score one with my feet. It’s no lie that I haven’t scored with my feet for a long time, but with good delivery it becomes easier. Edu Garcia’s been incredible with the set-pieces and even Khabra who got the assist on my first goal. We work really hard with the set- pieces, it’s a team thing and Carles Cuadrat has some great ideas with them. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a few more set-piece goals, not just from me but from the team.