The Haitian winger has failed to live upto his expectections this season for the Mariners.
“You either die as a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” goes a famous quote. Sadly, this is exactly what has happened with Sony Norde in his second stint at Mohun Bagan. The Haitian magician left last season on a bitter note, as he was suffering from a serious knee injury. He was given a grand farewell as the fans could not hold their back emotions at the news of his departure.
Fast forward to the start of the ongoing campaign and there were reports that Norde would return to India and don the Green and Maroon of Bagan once again. However, there were also strong concerns regarding his fitness, given the severity of his injury. But, the 29-year-old joined the club and was again given a grand welcome at the airport. Indeed, Bagan fans thought this could be their year to lift another I-League title, as their talisman was back in the mix.
Norde struggled to gel with the squad initially this season
But, fate had other ideas. The Haitian magician struggled in the first couple of weeks, with the team also finding it difficult to get going. Norde missed most of the first half of the top flight season. He was also in the stands for the first Kolkata Derby of the campaign, as the Mariners succumbed to a better East Bengal side. He was a part of the second derby, but hardly made an impact as the Red and Gold Brigade completed a rare double over their arch-rivals.
Norde’s legacy at the club is known to everyone who follows Indian football. The Haitian is considered to be one of the best foreign players in the club’s history. His heroics in the 2014/15 season won them the I-League title, followed by the Federation Cup next term, under the tutelage of then head coach Sanjoy Sen.
The winger’s contribution to the club is unmatched and his legacy will be remembered long after he is gone. But, this season he has been a shadow of himself. He’s struggled to control the ball at times, that effective burst of acceleration is missing and his cut-ins from the left flank are now very predictable. Overall he has failed to make the difference that he earlier used to.
The Haitian failed to inspire his side to challenge for the top four this season
With the team struggling to get going and playing a brand of clueless and drab football, Norde was unable to save thie sinking ship like he has done in times past. With four goals and three assists, one could say he’s had a decent campaign, but according to his own high standards, it has been nowhere near his past heroics.
One might say, the Haitian should have taken more time in his rehabilitation, as ACL injuries are always dangerous and one should not hurry back to the field. Secondly, it was a gimmick from the club officials to bring the fans’ favourite player and dampen all the protests once and for all. The club were heading towards an interim election before Norde’s signing and the Haitian’s arrival certainly helped in the cause.
There will be tough times in a player’s career. But, it cannot be denied that this term has gone some way to tarnishing his legacy in a Bagan shirt The Mariners are currently sixth in the league table, a whopping 14 points adrift of league leaders Chennai City.
Mohun Bagan have had a season to forget. Despite having a talented squad that won the Calcutta Football League, the Mariners played very inefficient and underwhelming football. Shankarlal Chakraborty’s mid-season resignation made things worse, as his replacement Khalid Jamil has failed to strike the right combination and also could not build a solid foundation at the back. The star foreigners have been reckless, with performances not up to the mark. All in all, it has been a campaign of misery for the club, the players and especially, their fans.
The fans have raised their voice against club officials, with regard to their hphazard and unprofessional practices and also their continued inability to bring in substantial investment, like arch-rivals East Bengal. Indeed, protests have taken place in full public view and it has led to fans boycotting the matches of their beloved team.
Norde’s lack of panache and exuberance on the pitch, could also be a byproduct of the negativity that surrounds the Mariners off it. The morale of the players has hit a new low and in such circumstances, it is difficult for anyone to ply his trade with aplomb. However, there is little doubt that his decision to rejoin the Mariners hasn’t paid off and indeed, may have done more harm than good, to both him and the club.