The Mariners endured a disappointing season in the top flight.
Initially, it almost felt like the glory days were close to returning for Mohun Bagan lasts season. However, after a timely Euphoria, everything started to go wrong for the Kolkata giants. What had seemed like an I-league winning squad crumbled into a heap of problems, something which other teams benefitted from. It almost seemed like having to live up to their newly rich rivals East Bengal’s standards clouded the real progression for the Mariners.
One issue led to another, creating a season to forget. In a year plagued with false promises, fan backlash and cohesion issues in the squad, Mohun Bagan experienced their worst league season in over a decade. There wasn’t a hint of the former I-League champions noticeable anymore. All it indicated was that a huge rebuilding process is needed to regain the pride and reputation, which took them years to build, only to get obliterated in one season of shame.
Fact Sheet For Indian Season 2018-19
Season Finished: 5th
Games Played: 20
Win %: 40
In preparation for the Calcutta Football League (CFL), the Mariners played a few friendly games and ended up on the winning side in dominant fashion. They would go onto make quite the impact in the CFL, even though their start wasn’t necessarily as good as they’d want it to be. Despite scraping past oppositions initially, Sankarlal Chakraborty soon had his side operating on all cylinders.
The Mariners would go onto record dominant wins over their opponents and unlike rivals East Bengal, they didn’t lose a match throughout the competition. As a result, Mohun Bagan broke their CFL winning streak and won their first state league title in almost nine years. They ended the competition with 9 wins out of 11, drawing two games and scoring 27 goals at that, heading into the I-League season high in confidence.
Top Three Performers
Underperformer of the Season
The commanding centre-back was anything but that this season, making one mistake after
another to further add to Mohun Bagan’s sorrows. After having an impressive debut season with the Mariners last time out, Kingsley was quite the opposite this season. He displayed multiple poor performances to lead his side into trouble during games, with lapses in concentration and poor defending causing Bagan to concede poor goals throughout.
He made an especially unforgivable mistake in the Kolkata derby against East Bengal, getting sent off and allowing them to pick up their first win in over five derbies as a result. Even apart from that, there were games where he would be outwitted by strikers and just couldn’t stamp his authority as much as he wanted. Even after being handed the captain’s armband on many occasions, he felt to be the inspired defensive commander they needed. It’s due to his lacklustre defending that the Mariners failed to keep out opponents and fail to disappointing losses, all resulting in a 5th place league finish in the end.
Top Three Performances
1. Real Kashmir 0-1 Mohun Bagan
2. Mohun Bagan 1-0 NEROCA FC
3. Shillong Lajong 2-3 Mohun Bagan
Coach’s Report Card
Sankarlal Chakraborty had a very polarizing reign as Mohun Bagan’s manager, with his season starting on a bright note. With his masterful knowledge of the Calcutta Football League(CFL), he enabled Mohun Bagan to play some attractive football in their own den and win their first CFL title in nine years. However, things took a turn for the ugly in the I-League. He couldn’t contain the unpredictability of the league, failing to set up his side to win. Poor player performances and an inconsistent defence didn’t help his case either. After failing too many times, he ended up resigning in early January.
In came Khalid Jamil for the departing Chakraborty. The former East Bengal manager brought much experience, but couldn’t do much with the limited resources. Under Jamil, the Mariners grinded through some results and suffered some embarrassing losses. They played some really disappointing, slow football, as the I-League winning manager could only guide them into a 5th place finish.
The Mariners did not participate in the Super Cup in solidarity with the I-League alliance. They were the only club not to even register the squad, giving a walkover to their match against Bengaluru FC.
Lessons To Be Learned
Mohun Bagan’s disasterous season in the I-league pointed out every flaw eating away at the club. The lack of proper planning or squad building cost the Mariners dearly into having their worst season in years. They need to be much better whilst planning their team going forward, building a strong squad which is not dominated by certain individuals. This means they cannot rely upon one or two stars to see them through. Also, the Mariners cannot just pick players who have performed well for other teams and expect them to shine for themselves anymore.
This tactic blew up in their face as Henry Kisekka had a season to forget. They need to create a proper scouting network which allows them to bring in unique, multi-talented individuals who give them a cutting edge. They also need to restructure their system, needing a better manager who can instil their style into the club without hesitation. The Mariners need to bring in better foreigners and more reliable players. They also need to overhaul their poor management structure to start performing up to the standards and compete at the top once again.
After a successful stint of ex-coach Shankarlal Chakraborty in the CFL and latter part of I-league in the previous season, we were hopeful that he can take our beloved Mohun Bagan to the top position in I-league with the economic help from Club president Tutu Bose. But the tumultuous situation created by the election disrupted Mohun Bagan’s activity in the transfer window. In the eleventh-hour Football Secretary, Debasish Dutta bought Abhishek Ambekar, PM Britto and Abhinash Ruidas. Henry Kisekka joined the club and fans had great hopes on him. Henry and Ambekar provided a good service in the Kolkata League.
As a result, we won the Calcutta Football League after 8 years. The coach wanted a second foreign defender but the club officials went for Sukhdev Singh from Minerva Punjab and brought Egyptian attacking midfielder, Omar Elhussieny. But the scandal caused by Sukhdev for breaching contract resulted in him sitting on the bench for the whole season. That was the biggest loophole in our side ie defence and there we lacked the whole season.
We drew both our matches against Gokulam and Aizawl FC. Dipanda Dicka, Henry, Arijit Bagui, Ambekar lost their form after these matches. The return of Sony Norde and some brilliant performances of Omar Elhussieny and Yuta Kinowaki provided hope but with time all hopes went down the drain as we lost Kolkata derby in both legs. Even sacking of coach Shankarlal Chakraborty and appointment of Khalid Jamil could not steady the boat for Mohun Bagan. Hopefully, things will change next season.