EAST BENGAL. A name that gets going million heartbeats. One of the biggest clubs in Indian Football, with a rich history and their strength being their millions of fans all around. From Kolkata to Boston, to the peaks of mountain ranges, wherever they go, they carry their love for the club with them. They’re passionate, they’re fierce and they are crazy for football. Almost every aspiring footballer in the country once has a dream for playing for the two biggest known clubs in India, EAST BENGAL and MOHUN BAGAN. But, what’s going wrong with them very recently?
The club from Bengal has miserably failed to hunt glory in recent times. EAST BENGAL at the beginning of this season, celebrated 100 years of their club since the time they started working officially, in 1920, which they did with huge expectaions for the season. But, talking about the current season it has been a disaster so far, with the rest of the season set to be cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Kolkata based club has failed to win even a signle trophy over the season, their coach Alejandaro Menendez Garcia was sacked mid way through the season, and their fans even had to think of relegation at a point which the team managed to rescue themselves from and rise up to a good position in the table but by then their arch rivals Mohun Bagan had already reached the maximum points needed for this season, to be crowned Champions and were declared Champions of the league with more matches to go, which was more of an upset for East Bengal fans. While Mohun Bagan joining hands with ATK and are moving to ISL next season as a new merged club called ATK Mohun Bagan, the entry of East Bengal into the Indian Super League is still under question marks. Lets have a short speculation at what’s been wrong for the Kolkata Giants, lately.
Lets Start with few basic points which might be the reason for the downfall:
- Recruitment Issues:
It is very lately that East Bengal have been suffering with the quality of players in their squad. East Bengal is known as one of the best clubs of India and are expected to have players who are the best in the country. From Baichung Bhutiya to Mehtab Hussain, all greats of Indian Football have been a part of the club’s rich history. But recently the recruitments have been a bit weird. Since the last two seasons it had been a trend to bring in players from the Champions of the League. While East Bengal are the ones who’re expected to make Champions, their side has been majorly filled with players from previous season’s Champion Teams. After Aizawl FC were crowned Champions of Hero I-League, East Bengal immediately signed a bunch of players, Chullova, Laldanmawia Ralte, Mahmoud Al-Amna, Brandon Vanlalremdika, and others. But they still failed to win the title, which was won by Minerva Punjab FC that season. But instead of trying to find new players East Bengal decided to buy the Minerva Punjab lads. A renovation again, with Kamalpreet Singh, Bali Gagandeep and other players were brought in, but yet of no use. At the end, it can be very well said that this strategy surely isn’t working for the Kolkata Giants, and they need to find a way out as soon as possible to get back to their Glory days.
- ISSUES BETWEEN COACH-MANAGEMENT-QUESS Group:
This has been a major issue over the last 2 years. After Quess took majority stakes at East Bengal they have been in charge of the Team as per reports. But an internal hazy battle continued regarding recruitment of coach, players, and the Team’s results, which lead to major mis-understanding between the Management and Quess. This had a major impact on the club. The fans were disappointed, frustrated and agonized. After all they don’t want to know what the fight is for!! All they want is their beloved club to do well. But the communication gap has been widening day by day between the club officials and the investors, and no unit can succeed without the co-ordination of all departments, because that is the reason they’re called a Unit. If the Unit breaks, you fail, and probably that may be another reason of the downfall.
- CHANGE of HEAD COACH in Mid-SEASON:
Well, change of coaches in mid season can destroy the entire mindset of a team, unless its bringing in something progressive or positive to the team. This has happened many times in past, for these big clubs, but this time the storyline was different. Among all the discussions and confusions and clashes between officials and investors, the blame eventually came on Head Coach, Alejandaro Menendez Garcia. Many people cried at his departure and many were happy, but all ended to disappointment as nothing changed. Rather they probably lost a gem. Alejandaro was known to bring up big names in Spanish Football, like Iago Aspas, Marco Asensio, Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez and others. He already brought up a new face to Indian Football in the name of Jobby Justin, in just one season. Well this might be a debatable topic if sacking him was a good or bad decision, or would he have been able to bring succes to the team, but one thing is sure that this MOVE, surely did no help to the Team’s performance.
- POOR Indian Recruits and over dependency on foreign players:
It is not a new thing about the over dependency on foreign players, but the quality of Indian recruits have been questionable. At the current level of Indian Football, almost every club has average to good performing foreign players and there comes in the role of Indian Players. Lately due to this thing, the team having better Indian players win the battle. So without disrespecting any player in the team, it can be said that the other Indian players in the opponent teams have been much better than the ones in East Bengal. The likes of Nongdomba Naorem of Mohun Bagan, Krishnananda Singh of TRAU FC, Pritam Singh of NEROCA, Rochharzela of Aizawl FC have all been key players for their squad. While East Bengal majorly missed such quality services in their side this season. They got a glimpse of hope after bringing in Bengaluru FC – B player, Edmund Lalrindika on loan, but luck probably wasn’t their side as the young lad got injured in just 15 minutes of his season for East Bengal.
- Lack of Proper STRIKERS:
Lack of a deadly goal scorer has been a major problem for East Bengal. At times we even saw midfielder Jamie Santos Colado play as a striker. East Bengal suffered with strikers last season too as their star man Enrique Esqueda got injured at an early stage of the league. Though Jobby Justin covered his absence very well but the void remained and further increased when Jobby left for ATK at the start of this season. Spanish striker Marcos de la Espada was brought in with much hopes but apparently he failed to fire. He scored a few goals but it wasn’t enough. Also he alone cannot be blamed as he lacked a striking partner throughout the season. It’s probably very rare that you expect a team to become Champions of an entire season, with only 1 striker in the squad. Also, not only a striker but you need goal scorers or rather Goal Poacher to be precise, to win Championships, which has been a major lacking from the team. Thus this can be highlighted as a big reason behind the team’s downfall.
- Does the Team Have any Uniform or Defined style of play or ideology which is followed by the club, over all age groups?
Well, the Answer seems to be NO, as far as it is known and can also been seen in the games, which can be a major reason behind the downfall. Every successful team needs a plan or an ideal, in modern football which helps bring success for the team over all the age groups from U-11 sides to the seniors. The gameplay of the current day East Bengal to be honest seems to be mostly direction-less and having no motive, from an analysts point of view. For success to come, defining a fixed style of play and a plan should be a must for any Club. Else failure is bound to happen and you have to depend on luck. As said in modern Football, “If you Fail To Plan, then you should Plan to Fail”, and that is probably the exact thing which is happening with East Bengal right now.
- MENTALITY of The TEAM:
The Mentality of the Team has been surprising to many, recently. East Bengal is known to be Bold and Positive on and off the field. They are a club known to be Aggressive and Fierce on the field, and are said to be like wounded Tigers, who, once trailing can pounce on the opponents with all strength and hunt them on, in any game. Well the fans off the field have been same and impressive year after year, but the mentality of the team seems to be much surprising. In recent seasons East Bengal have merely managed to make themselves look fierce on the field or even stand up to their given recognition of being such fierce and aggressive. This puts up a question on the mentality of the team. A Team which can fight till 90 minutes can turn around any match on a given day rather than a team who just takes on the field to play the 90 minutes out. The energy seems to be on a downward curve as the match progresses and the body language seems too casual for a Champion side. This can also be considered among one of the reasons of the recent sustaining poor form and performances.
Last but not the least, another reason which might be taken into consideration is,
- Making Academy Players their own and Promoting the good ones into the Main Squad:
With players like Vidyasagar Singh coming up from the academy, it can be easily seen that the potential and quality of the East Bengal Academy and junior side players is quite good. But instead of producing good talents, promoting them to the main squad hasn’t been a trend recently for East Bengal. While their rival club Mohun Bagan used academy lads Kiyan Nasiri and Subho Ghosh very well, East Bengal didn’t have any such plans as instead of having produced good players like Deep Saha, Bikash Singh, Manichand Singh, Suranjit Singh and many others, they did not even get a chance to prove themselves for their senior team yet. Academies are created to bring up new faces and new talents to perform for the main teams, and if the purpose isn’t fulfilled then it all seems wasteful from the Club’s point of view as these very lads of their own, can create big differences and bring success to the Club, and who knows one day they become big names in Indian Football and even World Football, like Baichung Bhutiya or Sunil Chhetri.
Well that’s all for now from the author with the possible reasons behind the recent failures of the big club. With rumours of East Bengal joining ISL, they must get themselves together, make a plan, work on these issues and then hunt for Glory. Wishing East Bengal Club and their fans and the entire East Bengal family for a great season ahead, with lots of glory awaiting and hoping for much more of success to be added on to the 100 Years of Legacy.