Peter Cklamovski reveals plan to ‘light up Tokyo’ in first presser as J1 League club coach

Peter Cklamovski spoke to the media for the first time since being appointed by FC Tokyo. After the Australian coach oversaw his first training session, KEEPUP provides the lowdown from Tuesday’s press conference.

“I want to light up Tokyo. I want to bring Tokyo to life for football.”

If there was one takeaway from Peter Cklamovski’s introductory press conference it’s that FC Tokyo fans should be excited.

For the first time since being named as Albert Puig’s replacement, the Australian coach fronted the media in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Tokyo have turned to Cklamovski in a bid to arrest their J1 League form – the club are 12th in the standings through 17 rounds. They are 17 points behind Kevin Muscat’s defending champions and league leaders Yokohama F.Marinos, and 14 points outside of the top three.

The former Perth Glory, Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory coach, and Socceroos assistant has a clear vision for Tokyo as he embarks on his second gig in Japan’s top flight following a brief spell with Shimizu S-Pulse in 2020, having teamed up with Ange Postecoglou to help end Yokohama F.Marinos’ title drought the year prior.

“Play a brand of football that will get Tokyo jumping and excited to watch us play,” said the 44-year-old, who was sensationally sacked by J2 League outfit Montedio Yamagata in April after two successful years.

“Tokyo is a city that never sleeps, so hopefully they think about football 24 hours a day. We understand the situation we’re in, so we have to fight our way through and take our steps to become that team we’re talking about.”

“I’ve always had an attraction to this club,” he said. “Special atmosphere the supporters create. I’m proud to represent them and the football club as manager. The stadium I know is a special stadium. Every game we play there, we want to do them proud, make them excited and send them home with smiles on their faces.”

Tokyo won the J.League Cup in 2020 and the 2011 Emperor’s Cup, though they have never conquered the J1 League. But Cklamovski and Tokyo have big aspirations.

Cklamovski’s first match in charge will be against Mitch Langerak’s Nagoya Grampus on Saturday.

“Special moments that will last forever,” he said when asked what he can achieve with Tokyo. “Something that Tokyo will remember forever. But that requires a lot of hard work and belief in what we do.”

Like his mentor Postecoglou, Cklamovski has an unrelenting belief in his philosophy – an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football.

“We have nothing to fear,” he added. “You have to overcome obstacles in life and in football and this is what we will do.

“You will see a team that will go straight for the target, full belief in each other, fight, play our football, make all of Tokyo proud. When you do that, you have nothing to fear.”

“The challenge for us is to be the best team we can be every day,” he said. “That’s what I focus on. That’s what I tell the players to focus on the next day. Get that next day right, execute everything in that day, then recover well and do it again.

“If we do that at a high level, we can achieve anything, but there’s a lot of hard work to do.”

Cklamovski has been making waves in Japan, where he has been based since 2017.

At Montedio, he turned the club from relegation candidates in 2021 to promotion hopefuls, despite a limited budget.

Last year, the club fell agonisingly short in their bid to return to the top flight for the first time since 2015.

Montedio drew 2-2 in the second round of the play-offs, meaning Roasso Kumamoto advanced to the deciding play-off with their higher finish during the regular season.

“Every step in my career is always about getting better, so I want to play even better football than I’ve created in the past at this club,” Cklamovski said.

“Don’t really look back but look forward on what we need to do to create a really entertaining brand of football for everyone in Tokyo to watch.

“Do it in a style where, yes we’re fighting for everything, and build a team mentality that is a winning mentality but a hungry mentality to achieve big things. Plenty of hard work ahead but nothing to fear. We fear nothing.”

Cklamovski, inspired by the legendary Crvena Zvezda team that won the 1991 European Cup, continued: “You look at what the champions do, and they play a certain brand of football that wins trophies. That’s not just in Japan but all around the world.

“So champions play a certain brand where they dominate their opponents, more often than not score the most goals, have the best defence and control the ball really well. That’s what we’re going to look to keep improving in our game.”

At the end of the press conference, Cklamovski was also asked about his influences in football and it prompted insight into his relationship with Postecoglou.

“I’ve said this for 20 years, even 20 years ago, I said Ange was a top manager. Evolution over time, he has proven he is one of the best managers in the world,” he said.

“My first day with Ange was in 2004 and together we developed ourselves everyday to be who we are. His influence on me is enormous. As a person, a coach, everything. From a football perspective I gained a lot from him.

“Our belief in football is innate, it’s the same. So when you work together, it’s magic. The knowledge, the expertise and experience he shared with me for 15 years is something I can take and produce on my own.

“I think everyone in Japan and Australia will be watching Tottenham and cheering him on. And he fears nothing as well (smiling).”