The Red and Gold had a forgettable debut season in the competition under head coach Robbie Fowler.
It turned out to be a harsh experience for SC East Bengal in their debut season in the Indian Super League (ISL). The century-old Kolkata giants ended the season ninth in the league table with just three wins. Though the Red and Gold made a mark by recruiting Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler as their head coach, the Englishman couldn’t bring much success in his first term in India. The team showed a lack of balance from the very first day raising questions on the recruitment done by the club.
The torchbearers showed strength in their possession game, but lacked significantly both in the defence and the offence. Thus, the side continued to struggle in chalking out their winning combination throughout the season.
Fact Sheet For SC East Bengal in Indian Super League Season 2020-21
1. Bright Enobakhare
Joining the team in the January, Bright is arguably the best recruitment done by the SC East Bengal think tank in the winter window. The U-23 Nigeria international rose into fame as soon as he joined the camp. His exceptional dribbling and goalscoring skills mesmerized football fans across the country as it perfectly justified the high price paid by the Kolkata giants to bring him down to India. Though he was able to curb the offensive woes of the Red and Gold, it was not enough to bring back consistency. In his 12 appearances, the striker scored three goals and assisted one.
2. Matti Steinmann
The 26-year-old German arguably was one of the most consistent performers for the Red and Gold. He took up the role of a playmaker in the team and steadily gelled with the Indian conditions. Steinmann is the only player who has one more year of contract with SC East Bengal and is expected to play a crucial role in the upcoming season. In 17 matches, the holding midfielder scored four goals and assisted thrice.
3. Ankit Mukherjee
Among the Indians, Ankit Mukherjee made a mark with his performance. The young full-back joined the Red and Gold in the winter window as he switched side from arch-rivals Mohun Bagan. With his terrific pace and ball control, Ankit was able to create problems for the opposition along the flank as he continued to create chances with his accurate crosses. Mukherjee seemed to be one of the rare breeds in the squad who tried to do positive things till the last minute of the game.
Underperformer of the Season
The former India international was expected to make a comeback after missing the last season due to a prolonged injury. But things didn’t turn much in his favour as he failed to perform when given chances. Lack of speed and blunt off-the-ball movement further made things tough for the Mizo Sniper as he couldn’t thrive under pressure.
Matches Played: 7
1. SC East Bengal 3-1 Odisha FC
2. Bengaluru FC 0-1 SC East Bengal
3. Jamshedpur FC 1-2 SC East Bengal
Manager’s Report Card
Robbie Fowler lacked significantly in bringing in a plan B as the team was seen to lose control of matches. Though the Englishman raised questions on the club’s recruitment, he also didn’t utilized his options to the fullest as he released a bunch of experienced Indian players in the middle of the season.
Unable to find his perfect starting XI and lack of consistency is something that the Liverpool legend suffered with a lot. Though he was able to gel the squad pretty well, the team failed to reflect their bond and understanding on the field.
Fowler used the second window pretty well as most of the additions made by him clicked and took the team to a better level. But a question remains on the philosophy of the Englishman as he came out with a season-long performance that turned out to be below average.
Lessons to be Learned
The SC East Bengal thinktank should definitely have a clear idea about time management during the pre-season. Starting the pre-season training late is one of the major reasons behind their failure. On the other hand, smart recruitment of players based on their recent performances should be done as the club suffered while finding the right balance in the team.
In the upcoming season. SC East Bengal need to go all out and build a strong team that can not only play a good game, but also can win it. Because, at the end it’s winning that matters the most in football.