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Trevor Morgan’s top 5 wins as East Bengal coach

Amoy Ghoshal
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
1.29K   //    Timeless

After guiding the club to seven major trophies in three seasons and progression to the AFC Cup quarter-finals, Trevor James Morgan is set to leave East Bengal despite having a year left on his current contract. Sportskeeda lists his top five wins in chronological order.

The First Trophy (October 2 2010: East Bengal 1-0 Mohun Bagan – Federation Cup final)

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It’s always a difficult task for a foreigner to make an impression in a new country and when Trevor Morgan was appointed in the summer of 2010, he took charge of a club that had been under-performing in the I-League but were the defending Federation Cup champions. The Indian FA Cup was Morgan’s first tournament and he enjoyed a great start as East Bengal breezed into the final without conceding in four matches. Opponents in the final were arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, who themselves had started peaking after a slow start in the group stage.

Derbies are always full of tension and with the match being a cup final, there was added pressure on both Morgan and Mohun Bagan coach Stanley Rosario. The venue was Cuttack but both sets of fans turned out in large numbers and witnessed a cagey first half, although Mohun Bagan had a goal controversially disallowed. East Bengal started the second period brightly and went in front through Reisangmi Vashum. Despite this being his first tournament, Morgan’s East Bengal looked solid and well organised at the back so they were happy to defend the slender advantage. Mohun Bagan had another goal disallowed although that time there was no controversy and Muritala Ali’s sending off made it easier for East Bengal to hold on for their seventh Federation Cup title and ensure a dream start for Morgan in Indian football.

More Derby Delight (April 9 2011: East Bengal 2-1 Mohun Bagan – I-League)

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By the time this fixture was played, Morgan had already established East Bengal as one of the title contenders while Mohun Bagan were under a new coach with the legendary Subhash Bhowmick being the technical director. Morgan had already won three of the four meetings against Mohun Bagan that season but the only draw came in the reverse fixture in the I-League when the Mariners had regrouped under Bhowmick. This match was by far more important for East Bengal as they were chasing the title while Mohun Bagan had to salvage pride from another trophyless season.

If East Bengal were efficient in the Federation Cup final, they were simply destructive in this match as they dominated from the start and went in front through Australian Tolgay Ozbey. Mohun Bagan equalised through Surkumar Singh at the start of the second half from their first real effort on goal but that only made East Bengal more dangerous as they soon regained the lead through Baljit Sahni, who was well set up by Tolgay. East Bengal didn’t add to the scoreline but comfortably held on to once again win the bragging rights of Kolkata.

Outclassing Dempo (December 15 2011: East Bengal 2-1 Dempo – I-League)

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Photo Credit: AIFF Media

Photo Credit: AIFF Media

For much of his three-year tenure, Morgan was criticised by some quarters for not playing an attacking style. The red-and-gold brigade built a reputation of being defensively solid under the former Bristol City striker, but were not always prolific going forward. But this win over Dempo in December 2011 was one performance where there were no complaints from either East Bengal fans or neutrals about the team’s style as they completely outclassed Dempo, who would later go on to win the title that season, in a 2-1 victory in Kolkata.

Morgan enjoyed a brilliant record against Dempo, remaining unbeaten in six I-League matches, losing just once in nine matches in all competitions. However, this was by far the best performance as East Bengal destroyed Dempo by playing them off the park. Clifford Miranda put the Goan side in front against the run of play but Penn Orji equalised after a brilliant pass from Tolgay Ozbey. The Nigerian Penn then turned provider for Tolgay as East Bengal went in front in a devastating first half display. In the second half too, East Bengal were dominant but little wasteful in front of goal and Dempo never really threatened to equalise. Each and every section of the local media was full of praise for East Bengal’s performance with one of the local television channels also comparing the combination of Mehtab Hossain-Penn-Tolgay with Xavi-Iniesta-Messi! Morgan though was just happy to get the three points.

Second Federation Cup Triumph (September 30 2012: East Bengal 3-2 Dempo aet – Federation Cup final)

Photo Credit: AIFF Media

Photo Credit: AIFF Media

After sealing the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title on the last day of the 2011-12 season, there was turmoil at East Bengal as Tolgay had agreed to sign for Mohun Bagan while Morgan also resigned. Although it wasn’t an official resignation, the Englishman had publicly expressed his displeasure of the interference from club officials in signing players. Eventually that dispute was resolved in the summer and Morgan remained in charge but the damage was done and anything other than Federation Cup success would have raised further doubts about the Englishman’s future.

East Bengal started the group stage slowly and only went through to the semis after winning their last match. Morgan’s boys needed an extra time winner from Lalrindika Ralte to beat Churchill Brothers in the semi-final as the Englishman guided the Kolkata club to their third straight Federation Cup final. I-League holders Dempo were their opponents in the final and once again East Bengal had to dig deep as they went behind. But defender Arnab Mondal equalised and the game once again went to extra time and yet again it was East Bengal who prevailed thanks to goals from Manandeep Singh and Edeh Chidi with Mahesh Gawli netting a consolation for Dempo.

AFC Cup jinx ended (April 3 2013: Tampines Rovers 2-4 East Bengal – AFC Cup)

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Trevor Morgan had revived the glory days at East Bengal in the first two seasons but they remained the whipping boys in the AFC Cup as the club failed to win any of their first 12 games in the continent under the former Hull City development coach. But Morgan and his players were determined to learn from their mistakes and once they were drawn in a group with all South-East Asian teams, there was always a chance of an improved showing.

East Bengal started their campaign with a narrow home win over Malaysia’s Selangor before drawing away at Vietnam’s Sai Gon Xuan Thanh. That victory over Selangor ended a 21-match winless streak in the AFC Cup but the stalemate at Vietnam increased their away winless run to 11. Morgan was well aware that to qualify for the knockout stage his team had to win at least one game on the road. And so they did on matchday three against Singapore champions Tampines Rovers. East Bengal exhibited an excellent brand of counter attacking football to win 4-2 with the foreign strike pairing of Edeh Chidi and Andrew Barisic totally destroying the Tampines defence. The performance had both quality and maturity, something which is rarely seen in Indian teams. That display gave the club hope of reaching the knockout rounds for the first time in nine years and they managed that by becoming the first Indian club to not only win their group but also ended the group stage unbeaten. They will be playing in the quarter-finals in September but sadly under a different coach.

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