The story of how SC East Bengal made it into the Indian Super League is a fascinating one. On the back of ownership issues with Shree Cement, the Red and Gold brigade eventually confirmed their status as an ISL club on the 27th of September, a date that will be remembered by all East Bengal fans.
The focus shifted from the boardroom to the locker room almost immediately with the appointment of Robbie Fowler as manager. The former Liverpool legend understood the importance of acting fast by recruiting his overseas players in a rather efficient manner.
Fowler turned to his old stomping grounds, Brisbane Roar and Wigan Athletic to find the best talent he could recruit in limited time. The first to arrive was Scott Neville on loan from Brisbane Roar followed by striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway. Daniel Fox and Anthony Pilkington arrived from Wigan with Jacques Maghoma and Matti Steinmann rounding off the overseas quota.
The recruitment of Indian players has also been impressive with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Narayan Das signing. Center-back Gurtej Singh and midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh have only gone on to strengthen the squad. With a few days to go before the start of the ISL, let's take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for SC East Bengal ahead of the season.
SC East Bengal: SWOT Analysis
Given the fact that this will be East Bengal's first season in the ISL, there will be proportionate expectations. Of course, one certainly does not mean to lowball their effort, but the pressure on players has been eased. This would ensure that they are able to play with a certain level of freedom.
Despite the late arrival into the league, the player recruitment has been quite phenomenal. Robbie Fowler and the East Bengal management's ability to sign the likes of Daniel Fox and Anthony Pilkington has been nothing short of extraordinary. On paper, the Red and Gold brigade look to be a force to reckon with.
With this being the first season in the Indian Super League, most players, if not all, have not played together. To compound the problems further, Robbie Fowler has just a few weeks to bring this group of players together and impose his philosophy and style on the squad.
He has also been granted a very short span of time to pick his best XI, something that is near to impossible in a tournament such as the ISL. In addition to all of this, East Bengal kick off their campaign with the Kolkata Derby, perhaps not the most ideal fixture to begin their campaign with.
With lowered expectations and lesser pressure on their shoulders, Robbie Fowler would be urging his players to express themselves on the grass. Fowler and the East Bengal squad also make a part of the club's history already by becoming their first group of players and coaches to lead the club into the ISL.
Although many pundits have predicted a mid-table finish for East Bengal, the club has an outside chance to make it to the playoffs.
While it is quite difficult to pick threats from a rather strong squad on paper, there are a few threats to be considered. Apart from the goalkeeping positions, there seems to be an abundance of players within their ranks. So far, their 34 players registered for the upcoming ISL season.
From the outset, Fowler has a lot of work to do in order to pick his best XI, something he does not have a lot of time for as well.Published 05 Nov 2020, 23:59 IST