DELHI DYNAMOS are carrying out a marketing campaign of massive proportions around their new signings.
Only a couple of days ago, the signing of ex Chelsea player Florent Malouda was announced to the world during Chelsea's away game at the Hawthorns through the pitchside electronic billboards. This was followed by the release of a video showing Chelsea legend Didier Drogba wishing Malouda good luck on his new transfer.
Now after a long wait, the DEN Network-owned franchise has announced the signing of ex Liverpool star John Arne Riise, in conjunction with a much anticipated Arsenal vs Liverpool match.
The signing comes after a prolonged period of controversy. Riise had initially signed a pre-contract agreement with Kerala Blasters. But this was followed by a period of inactivity on the Blasters' part, leading to an ultimatum from Riise, who asked them to sign him or let him go. The Sachin Tendulkar-owned franchise kept silent on the whole matter, allowing the Norwegian defender to make the switch to Delhi Dynamos, a move he is quite excited about by his own admission,
"New country and new league, so I can't wait to get started... hopefully Roberto Carlos can get a team together and we can challenge for the title."
A valuable addition to a defence already heavy with experience (Chicão, Naoba Singh, Anwar Ali, Anas Edathodika and perhaps a bit of Roberto Carlos), Riise has been active in top tier professional club football since 1997. He has spent 7 seasons in Liverpool and 3 each in Fulham, Roma and Monaco. He has earned 110 caps for the Norwegian national team. Apart from being a defender in the traditional sense he is also known for his tendency for laying quick raids in opposition territory. He can take free kicks, which might come handy considering Roberto Carlos cannot be expected to play every match. He also briefly played as a midfielder at Liverpool. He has won the leagues with Monaco and APOEL, and the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool.
But while the Dynamos have been turning heads worldwide with their innovative marketing and quality foreign signings, their Indian contingent does not reflect transfer business similarly well done, resulting in a squad over-dependent on their overseas players. That means in every department they are two injuries away from serious trouble. A shaky foundation like this is not something auspicious to go with into a compact tournament like ISL. However, there is a chance that they will make more signings to offset the situation; indeed Riise himself expresses hope for the same in the video.
However, the efforts Delhi Dynamos have displayed by tapping into the large EPL fanbase present in the city may finally be the move that turns the popularity tide in their favour. Even if the franchise management may not admit it, but having one of the biggest loss margins from the inaugural edition of ISL means their brand needs a big push to ultimately survive.
Signing and marketing moves like this will undoubtedly pique fans' interest, but it will take good performance on the field to make them stay. And right now, as the team prepares to leave for a pre-season camp in Sweden, that seems to be relying too much on good luck with injuries.