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Why East Bengal need to move on from Robbie Fowler

Perhaps the East Bengal job came a little too early for Fowler
Perhaps the East Bengal job came a little too early for Fowler
Neeladri Sarkar

SC East Bengal's final game of the 2020-21 ISL season against Odisha summed up what had gone wrong for the club and their coach, former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.

To start with, the coaching staff could not find the right combination in defense, which looked shaky throughout the season. Then midway through the season, the club recruited an overtly talented Bright Enobakhare who managed to wow the East Bengal fans early on, but his impact was short-lived.

Questions have been raised about his willingness to contribute to the team's cause. A simple pass to Anthony Pilkington in the Odisha game could have made it 3-1 and closed the match for the Red and Golds.

Adding to that, the Indian players' recruitment was not up to the mark. This led to the likes of Eugeneson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth being released, and Sarthak Golui, Saurav Das and Ankit Mukherjee being brought in. This is a fact that both Robbie Fowler and Tony Grant have highlighted on quite a few occasions.

Foreign Recruitment was below par as well

But what is not being spoken about enough is the fact that even foreign recruitment was not up to the mark. This is something Robbie Fowler needs to be held accountable for.

The likes of Scott Neville and Amadi Holloway had already played for Fowler at Brisbane Roar. Neville showed form after almost 10 games. The phase of play that encapsulates Neville's season is of the young Liston Colaco very easily going past the Australian and slotting in a pass for Hyderabad's third goal when the sides met for the first time this season.

Holloway, on the other hand, took a fair bit of time to get fit, and even longer to score goals for East Bengal. The captain, Danny Fox, committed crucial blunders throughout the season with the ATK Mohun Bagan game standing out.

Beyond that, the squad rotation has baffled fans and pundits alike. Fowler benched the in-form Debjit Majumder for Subrata Paul, who hasn't been in top form for some time now. Neville was dropped right when he started to return to form. Anthony Pilkington was deployed in too many different positions and never really got going.

Fowler's off-field antics

Moving beyond on-field performances, Fowler has not really given a good account of himself with his off-field antics as East Bengal coach. He was suspended twice and fined a fair amount as well. There were constant complaints of Indian players not being good enough and Indian referees not being good enough.

Further, on a few occasions, he did not take kindly to the criticism leveled at him by the former East Bengal players. This is something East Bengal managers have to get used to. The club carries the hopes and dreams of millions.

All in all, it's safe to say that Fowler endured a torrid time as East Bengal manager this Indian Super League season. The club now head into yet another reset mode.

Time for another reset?

They did it after Khalid Jamil departed and Quess came in as investors. The project lasted less than two years with Alejandro Menendez being shown the door after a defeat to Mohun Bagan. A few months later, Quess departed as investors and Shree Cement came in and took up that role.

The new investors will have to take their fair share of the blame this season. Especially with regards to handing over the coaching role to Robbie Fowler whose experience in football management is limited. He managed Brisbane Roar for one season and prior to that, donned the hat of a player-manager back in 2011-12.

Perhaps the East Bengal job came a little too early in his managerial career.

A disastrous season for Robbie Fowler at East Bengal
A disastrous season for Robbie Fowler at East Bengal

As of now, doubts remain over Shree Cement continuing as investors next year. If they do, Project Reset should begin with Robbie Fowler being replaced. Three wins in 20 matches isn't good enough for an institution like East Bengal, which just celebrated its 100 years of existence.

To summarize this season, the players, the coaching staff and the club officials (both Shree Cement and Legacy officials) have let the fans down. Project Reset must begin now!


Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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