There has been a change in personnel at the coaching level with the appointment of Manuel Diaz earlier this year, alongside a revamped squad of new foreigners and a much better crop of Indian players. SC East Bengal are a side that could be in and around the top six in the league if they make the right moves and their player roster fits the coach's plan.
The biggest strength of SC East Bengal will probably be their attacking line-up. The Red and Golds have lined up with the likes of Antonio Perosevic, Daniel Chukwu, Naorem Singh and Subho Ghosh to score goals. The team struggled to score goals last season, and the very presence of players that have been active in top European football leagues and other ISL teams upfront will do Manuel Diaz's side a world of good. They have also brought in two experienced defenders in Tomislav Mrcela and Franjo Prce, who add much-needed stability at the back.
Since the upcoming ISL season mandates a maximum of seven foreign players on the pitch at all times of play, it has become imperative for every club to focus much more on their Indian players than foreign signings. Due to a delayed start in team building, owing to negligence from East Bengal club officials over the signing of an agreement with Shree Cement, the Red and Golds have had to miss out on several quality Indian signings in the transfer market.
The likes of Mohammed Rafique, Raju Gaikwad, Thongkhoisem Haokip, Balwant Singh, Romeo Fernandes, Bikash Jairu and Adil Khan are all seasoned Indian football professionals, but simply have not had enough game time under their belts in the last few seasons to provide enough impetus to a possibly injury-tricked squad.
The Red and Golds, despite their drawbacks, are a much better and stronger unit than they were last season. They have a seasoned Indian roster with several young names alongside decent foreign signings. Manuel Diaz's style of play will be something to look forward to after a very shaky performance under former head coach Robbie Fowler.
There is a decent chance that they will be invovled the contest for the top four places if they tick all their boxes throughout the season. Regardless of their final standings in the league, it is expected that they will do better than their maiden campaign in the ISL.
SC East Bengal simply do not have enough quality on the Indian side of things in their squad. They have brought in some quality names in Jackichand Singh, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Adil Khan among others, players who might walk into the Indian national team but are not reliable enough to last an entire season at the moment.
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There is also a significant lack of depth in the squad, especially if foreign signings do not perform up to expectations. The Red and Golds could struggle against sides like ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa due to a significant difference in their quality in midfield.