What’s the story?
According to sources close to the club, East Bengal have been torn apart from the inside following their shock defeat to Aizawl FC a couple of days back. The Bengal giants are still on top of the I-League charts, but several officials inside the club are expressing their doubts as to whether the squad is capable enough to deliver the much-awaited trophy.
The club’s General Secretary Mr. Kalyan Majumdar, in an interview to a leading Bengali daily said, “I do not expect us to win anything this season. It’s not that we are good enough, we are simply poorly organised and the players are not strong enough mentally.”
He also held football secretary Mr. Babu Bhattacharya responsible for all on-field failures and said he should be quizzed as to why their title challenge dismantle every season when the pressure starts mounting on the team.
The Kolkata giants had started the league season strongly, winning six and drawing just one of their first seven games. However, after that, they have dropped seven points in their last three games, which includes the unexpected away defeat to fellow title challengers Aizawl FC.
The loss meant that Mohun Bagan were allowed to catch up with East Bengal in terms of points whilst also having a game in hand. Following the loss, rumours of internal turmoil have been making the rounds, especially on social media.
The heart of the matter
There were whispers that the club management had been divided into two factions even before the loss and it all exploded after the result. Lalrindika Ralte, who is captaining the side was reprimanded by senior footballer Mehtab Hossein after the former was seen smiling and waving at Aizawl FC fans, following the match. Ralte, however, snapped back at him saying that he only did so as they hailed from his state, and apparently there was a bust-up between the two in the dressing room.
A day after, it was clear that this was only going to get worse when several media outlets in Kolkata reported that many in the management were unhappy at the manner in which coach Trevor James Morgan was appointed, and wanted him to be removed at the earliest possible instance.
Despite all the off-field distractions, the team has been training together for now as they have a massive must-win game coming up against Bengaluru FC next at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on 25th February.
According to fans who are also members of the club, there is a high possibility of Morgan resigning right after the game, as he has repeatedly expressed his discontent at the unprofessional attitude shown by those in the top brass as well as with the players, who he feels are not performing according to his instructions.
While it is understandable that there may be a difference of opinion among people, it is sad to see such differences affecting the team’s morale. The fallout from the aforementioned interview is massive, and it seems that heads are likely to roll especially if the Red and Gold brigade lose to Bengaluru FC.
The fans will be the biggest losers here if the strife continues, though, as they will have to wait another agonising year to see their dear club lift the coveted I-League trophy.