The Spaniard replaces Manolo Diaz who was roped in by SCEB during the summer.

SC East Bengal have been forced to change their head coach midway into the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season. After a dismal start, which saw the Red and Gold Brigade unable to win a single match in their first eight games, Manolo Diaz was sacked.

Mario Rivera, who worked with them in two different stints, has been appointed as the new head coach. The Spaniard was the assistant coach to Alejandro Menendez in the 2018-19 season. He also worked as a head coach in the second half of the 2019-20 season. Despite having decent knowledge of Indian football, however, the Spaniard faces a stern test at SC East Bengal.

5. Getting more out of youngsters

SC East Bengal undoubtedly have some really promising young players in their squad. Amarjit Singh Kiyam is the former captain of the India U-17 team. Subha Ghosh is an exciting young forward. Mahesh Singh also possesses plenty of potential. Rivera has to implement a system that can benefit these young Indian players and others.

Be it giving them more freedom on the pitch or having senior players cover for them, the new boss has to shape things to help the youngsters feel more comfortable. If able to get the best out of these youngsters, SC East Bengal can produce more lively performances and win more games.

4. Replacing under-performing foreigners

It’s still not known how much of an influence Mario Rivera will play on East Bengal’s January transfer activity. However, the Red and Gold are very likely to be involved in transfers. They are also possibly going to replace some of the under-performing foreign players. If that does happen, Rivera needs to be the one to recommend new signings.

The Red and Gold Brigaders need more influential, impactful attacking players and have to make decisive signings to help them salvage this season. So, the Spanish coach faces the challenge of deciding who should be signed in January and to ensure that those potential new signings can help turn things around quickly.

3. Raising squad morale

It wouldn’t take a genius to realize how low East Bengal’s morale is right now. It’s basically at rock-bottom. Not winning a single game all season would do that. Rivera faces the formidable task of bringing a sense of happiness and positivity back in the squad. He has to be clever with his training sessions and introduce new methods that can galvanize the players.

Unless East Bengal’s group morale increases, they won’t be able to win games. The new tactician has to improve the players’ confidence levels and bring a sense of reassurances to raise their morale and get them playing better football.

2. Finding the ideal Indian core

With the new ISL rules only permitting four foreign players, the Indian core for any team plays a huge role in their success in the league. While East Bengal’s Indian core was hastily created last year, there is a decent blend of experienced players and exciting youngsters. Mario Rivera has to work hard to identify the Indian players best suited to his system and those tough enough for the ISL.

He can’t base his decisions around those who’ve been here for long, but those who impress the most in training. The Spaniard is expected to change the system from Diaz’s and it remains to be seen whether he’s able to discover the perfect Indian core that can excel under him.

1. Identifying his perfect starting XI

The big issue which ultimately led to Manolo Diaz’s demise as East Bengal coach was his failure to find his ideal starting XI at the club. He kept tweaking and changing players, resulting in disappointing results.

Mario Rivera can’t get entangled in the same problem if he’s to succeed in his short stint. He needs to be active in training and trying different player combinations to find his ideal bunch of 11 players. If he’s able to find a proactive, energetic starting XI that is ready to succeed as a team, Rivera can help improve things at East Bengal.

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