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I-League 2018-19: Can ‘Bad Boy’ Khalid Jamil turn things around for Mohun Bagan?

Avik Roy
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
432   //    08 Jan 2019, 21:13 IST

Jamil in his first press conference for Mohun Bagan
Jamil in his first press conference for Mohun Bagan

Khalid Jamil is a man of few words. All of his press conferences are too boring to attend with same routine answers. He would never speak out a word which could create any kind of controversy. However, it is his off-field antics that make him a questionable person.

There has not been much fan following since his appointment as the new coach of Mohun Bagan. Fans are taking on each other over the decision of the officials. Of course, it will take time. Only six months ago he was the coach of their arch-rivals. It’s not easy to acclimatize with the person you had hurled abuse just a few months ago.

More than his second innings in the city, albeit for a different team, the only question that is doing round is, would he be the same Khalid Jamil that we saw before?

Jamil’s first stint in the city witnessed many new things in the history of Kolkata’s football. He is a firm believer of unnatural things that would change the result of a game. For that, he has a certain number of superstitions, according to his close persons.

Take the example of a year back. On December 4, on the first Derby of the last season’s I-League, Jamil reached the stadium as early as 8.30 am. The match was scheduled to start at 2 PM. But Jamil wanted to enter the field of play forcibly. Then he ordered to open both the dressing rooms.

When he was reminded by the Mohun Bagan media manager that, according to the rules, dressing rooms would be opened only two hours before the kick-off, Jamil was infuriated. He hurled superlatives at the media manager before leaving the field.

He has some more in store. Like, he doesn’t come to the field with the team bus before a match, comes to the reserve bench only after the kick-off, wears the same set of jersey’s in every match and even draws imaginable lines at the opponent goalpost.

During his time with the red and gold, his relation with the officials was too bad. He didn’t pick up their calls or meet them. His whimsical nature was one of the main reasons behind his sacking.

Journalist’s too weren’t spared from his targets. When one of the photo-journalists went to take his picture after a practice session, Jamil cursed him saying that he will meet with dire consequences. An apology was not enough to close things.

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“I haven’t heard any complaint during my time with East Bengal. I would be the same as I was. But if somebody complains in future, I will think about changing myself,” Jamil said on his first press conference for Mohun Bagan on Tuesday.

Here lies the question, how can such a coach turn things around for Mohun Bagan? Will he apply the same strategy or opt for a new?

With 15 points from 11 matches, the challenge is becoming continuously difficult for the age-old club. The quest for another I-League title is looking increasingly bleak. Mohun Bagan now need a big push-up to revive their campaign.

First of all, the team needs to be positive. The players are seriously lacking confidence and it is exposed with their performance on the field. Mohun Bagan conceded late goals in at least five matches after taking the lead or equalizing.

“We need to be positive for tomorrow and focus on the match, nothing else,” Jamil said. He kept repeating the word ‘positive’ in his entire press conference. Though there was not much positivity in his players’ body language.

Along with the positive mind, Mohun Bagan need positive football too. Jamil was criticized for being overtly defensive in his strategy. If somehow his team scored, he asked his players to close down all the doors.

However, having two of the best foreign strikers in the country, this strategy won’t work. He needs to instil confidence within the strikers, who are going through a barren run. The defenders are conceding easy goals. Midfielders can’t keep the same temperament throughout the match.

Many holes need to be plugged-in. But the task will not be easy for Jamil. He only had one practice session before the Minerva Punjab game. Two days later, up there is NEROCA. No one is expecting a miracle though. But he will get 15 long days before his ‘grudge’ match against East Bengal.

Will he take the advice of former coach Sankarlal Chakroborty? “Yes, of course. He knows the players better than me,” pat came the reply. But as per the past experiences, Jamil is very stubborn and doesn’t want to listen to anybody.

In East Bengal, ex-player Manoranjan Bhattacharya was appointed as his mentor. Jamil never even spoke to him, let alone taking advices. Sankarlal will never invite such a situation that Manoranjan faced.

The battle is all alone for Jamil. Will he succeed?

Only time will tell.

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