The 45-year-old spoke about the foreign signings made by the club and the style of play he will look to adopt.
The 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) is not too far away now and all teams are in the final stages of preparations ahead of what promises to be an exciting season. SC East Bengal, the newest entrants in the competition are also eager to make a mark just like the other teams. That was reflected in the words of head coach Robbie Fowler, as he interacted with fans via an Instagram live session held by the Kolkata giants on Saturday.
Reflecting the mood of the ongoing ‘Durga Puja’ celebrations in the state of West Bengal, Fowler greeted fans in a royal-looking kurta, as he said that having been in India multiple times, it is always a joy to return to the country. “Well, I have been to India many times, I have been involved in duties with various television channels. I have visited as an ambassador of Liverpool FC. India is one place which I always find myself returning to. I have travelled to many major Indian cities and SC East Bengal has given me the opportunity to travel to Goa for the first time,” he said.
He further added, “Over the years, I’ve been keeping tabs on the ISL as well, after having almost come here as a player in the early years. It’s still a very young league, but the overall quality of football has undoubtedly become better with every single year. It’s a big challenge to manage an ISL club, that too a club with a rich and fantastic history.”
Upon being asked about why he chose to accept the role offered by East Bengal, the 45-year-old replied, “They have a great team and great fans. This presented a great challenge to me and the challenge was gratefully accepted. First of all, it feels good to return to the game. We know how it has been for the past few months and we know how people love football. So, it is wonderful to be able to return and the prospect of putting smiles on fans’ faces makes it even better.”
The Red and Gold signed a few new foreigners ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 campaign – midfielders Matti Steinmann and Jacques Maghoma, winger Anthony Pilkington, defenders Scott Neville, Danny Fox and striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway have already put pen to paper on deals that will see them play for the Kolkata giants.
“You have seen the players that I’ve managed to bring in. They are quality players without a doubt and I hope that they can continue performing at the top level in India as well. I expect them to be of good benefit to the club as well and maybe they will be joined by one more player soon. I cannot reveal the details yet, but we will have to wait and see,” Robbie Fowler commented on the club’s foreign contingent.
He added, “Neville and Fox are both excellent players. Pilkington and Maghoma in midfield are both strong and competitive players, technically very good. Steinmann is an excellent player and for me, he was one of the standout players in the A-League. Finally, I wish I had some of the attributes Amadi-Holloway has as a player. I think with us bringing him here, he will hopefully show us the belief that we have in him. I think that with him, we have a real player.”
“We wanted to build a competitive team and players who are comfortable getting the ball when there are players around. We never just signed because of the good names, all these players are good players,” the former Liverpool star said. He was also quick to remind fans that despite signing some top foreign names, the team still needs its Indian players to perform.
“You are not going to get perfection straightaway. You need to keep progressing the local players. As much as we have had foreign players and managers come into the ISL, there is a lot of Indian talent as well. We will look to develop a competitive team and try to develop Indian talent as well. We all hope the league can get better and as management, we think we can do better,” he assured fans.
Citing Jeje Lalpekhlua’s example, Robbie Fowler explained, “Jeje for instance – he missed a year, he is excited. He can’t wait to get out and play. He will want to get out there and show people what a good player he is. He has scored a lot of goals for the national team. Our job is to try and make the Indian players a bit better. We will all benefit from that.”
The coach finally wrapped up his short interaction by speaking about his style of football, while also leaving an important message on winning. “I want to play in the right way. The right way for me is to play with the ball at the feet, playing short passes and maintaining possession of the ball in the opponents’ half, while also making the players move freely on the pitch. Creating chances and scoring off them is key to winning matches and winning is our primary objective,” he concluded.