Can Shankarlal do the things that Sanjoy could not?
Mohun Bagan have promoted Shankarlal Chakraborty as head coach for the remainder of the I-League season. Chakraborty takes over from Sanjoy Sen, who had stepped down as the manager after Tuesday’s 1-2 defeat to Chennai City at the Bagan ground.
This is not the first time that the 1996 TFA cadet will be at the helm as the Mariners gaffer and has already served in the role a few times during Sanjoy Sen’s reign when the latter was suspended during I-League matches. Chakraborty worked as a full-time coach of Bagan during their last two CFL campaigns in which they emerged runners-up this year. He also helped Bagan win the Sikkim Gold Cup this season with very few resources at disposal.
Shankarlal has been in the Green and Maroon colours since the 2014-15 season when Subhash Bhowmick brought him as the coach and since then, he has worked closely with Bagan players and officials as well as Sanjoy Sen in the seasons that followed. Shankarlal is characterized as a very soft-spoken and cool-headed guy in the dressing room as he bonds very well with the players and has an exceptional control over players and media.
Let’s have a look at Shankarlal’s career as a player and manager till now.
The Saturday afternoon of 2nd August 1997 failed to live up to the hype that had gripped the city of Kolkata three weeks ago.
On 13th July, East Bengal had run riot to demolish their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan 4-1, riding on a hat-trick by Bhaichung Bhutia. A crowd of 1,35,000 watched from the stands as Amal Dutta’s newly introduced and talked about ‘Diamond System’ came down crashing by his rival P.K. Banerjee and a young Sikkimese guy named Bhaichung Bhutia.
Chima Okorie, who had the scored the solitary goal for the Green and Maroons on that afternoon, was gunning for a revenge against his former employers. The clubs faced each other once again in the first weekend of August. However, the tie is mostly remembered for a tragic moment, as Shankarlal Chakrobarty, a young Indian professional broke his shin bone as the Nigerian footballer lunged in with a rash tackle.
Chakraborty, who was in his first season with the Red and Golds, had to leave the ground on a stretcher. A graduate of the class of 1996 from the Tata Football Academy (TFA), he took his footballing lessons alongside the likes of Renedy Singh, Kalyan Choubey and Dipendu Biswas.
While that tackle more or less ended his playing career, Renedy and Choubey became the only two players to play the first fourteen seasons of the National Football League (later renamed as I-League).
Shankarlal returned to action for East Bengal a couple of years later but suffered an injury again in the same area against ITI to spend another lengthy spell on the sidelines. Subhash Bhowmick gave him a silver lining when he included him in the squad of the 2002-03 season and this time, he finally had a moment of glory in the Kolkata derby.
Playing for the full 90 minutes for the first time in the derby after that historic win in 1997, Shankarlal sent in a cross from the right in the 74th minute. Mike Okoro controlled the ball before delivering it for a 20-year-old Mizoram lad, who headed the ball into the net to earn a 2-1 win for East Bengal and to grab the limelight for the first time in his career. While Shylo Malsawmtluanga kick-started his glory days in Indian football that afternoon, that was the final memorable moment for Chakraborty in his career as a footballer.
After spending almost, a decade in depression and frustration, he was appointed the coach of the Mohun Bagan Football School in 2011-12. After a brief stint there, he was made the coach of the Indian Football Association (IFA) Academy. When Subhash Bhowmick was named the coach of Mohun Bagan in the summer of 2014, he summoned his former student, for whom he has always had a soft corner.
While Subhash had to leave the club in 2011-12, the soft-spoken assistant coach kept his place on the Mohun Bagan bench as Sanjoy Sen took over. While Sen took the calls in Bagan’s I-League winning campaign, the bald man in his late thirties saw the outspoken gaffer from the close vicinity and continued his own learning.