What’s the story?
Bengal’s Santosh Trophy-winning coach Mridul Banerjee has been appointed as the interim coach of East Bengal. The man who led Bengal to their 32nd Santosh Trophy win earlier this year without any players from the three big clubs of Kolkata will be in charge of the Red and Gold for the remainder of the season which includes two I-League games and the Federation Cup.
The club has also formed a new advisory committee consisting of former clubs legends Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Tushar Rakshit and Bhaskar Ganguly.
Speaking at a press conference, club secretary Kalyan Majumdar quipped, “Mridul is our choice and has been appointed the coach. He has been given a contract till the Federation Cup.”
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East Bengal had brought Trevor Morgan for a second spell at the club earlier this season. However, things turned sour rather quickly this time around for Morgan with constant bickering with the management of the club.
However, everything was swept under the carpet after the Englishman delivered another Calcutta Football League and followed it up with a rollicking start to the I-League where they were the front runners in the tournament.
However, the Red and Gold began to stutter at the back end of the season and their capitulation was complete when they lost their last four games, which included a soul-crunching defeat at the hands of bitter rivals, Mohun Bagan.
The heart of the matter
Morgan handed over his resignation after East Bengal lost against DSK Shivajians this weekend, thus effectively ending all hopes of East Bengal lifting the I-League title. In the aftermath, former coach Armando Colaco was the favourite to take over the reins in Kolkata after the two sides had initial talks.
However, the advisory committee felt Mridul Banerjee as the man for the job. Speaking to the press after his appointment, Banerjee said that he feels that the team has potential to do well in the upcoming Federation Cup and he is hopeful that he will be able to get the best out of the side.
Banerjee, who holds an AFC-A license further added that he has observed some flaws in the team, which he hopes to rectify in the days to come. However, he doesn’t want to dwell in the past.
East Bengal still has two games left in the I-League before switching their focus to the Federation Cup, which will be their only chance to save the season. East Bengal, on paper, has one of the best squads in India.
And if the new coach can bring the best out of the individuals whilst putting the internal bickering to rest, there is no reason why the Kolkata giants will not have a chance to lift the Federation Cup.
The decision certainly is one that comes from out of the blue. However, this is an apt reward for a man who has done his due at various levels of football. Only a handful Indian coaches have been able to get the AFC-A certificate and that alone speaks of the pedigree he has.
However, the win in the Santosh Trophy was clearly the clincher.