The Belgian tactician feels the current top brass at the club are not able to take the outfit to the summit of Indian football, let alone in Asia.

Following the protests by East Bengal fans and the subsequent violence that ensured on July 21, former club head coach, Philippe De Ridder has extended his support to the supporters. The Belgian tactician, who had two different stints at the Kolkata outfit, has dubbed the fans ‘brave’ while maintaining that Debabrata ‘Nitu’ Sarkar and Kalyan Majumder are unable to usher a new dawn at the club.

“They are very brave. I respect that. They have the courage to go out in the street and ask decent questions to the actual management, that should maybe respect them a little more,” he said about the protestors.

“It’s brave to go out, knowing you can be injured or even die and they don’t do it to make money! Just for the love of their club,” he added.

The protesting fans were lathi-charged and at least four were arrested by the city police on Wednesday.

The focal point of East Bengal fans’ protests on July 21 was regarding the club officials’ decision to not sign the agreement with investors Shree Cement. The officials have maintained that several clauses in the final agreement are disrespectful towards the club and its fans. Speaking about it, whether the club officials should sign or not, De Ridder took a similar stance to that of the protestors.

Watch: East Bengal fans protest on July 21 in front of the club tent

“They (the officials) should sign what they agreed for, before their investor gave the money to enter ISL. It’s not ‘in order to play ISL,’ it’s ‘in order to respect what you agreed with, before you received the money.”

The majority of the protestors have accused top club official, Debabrata ‘Nitu’ Sarkar, as the primary reason behind the failure to deliver top laurels, like the I-League title. They have also blamed the executive committee member as one of the underlying reasons for not signing the agreement with Shree Cement. While De Ridder felt it’s time for a change at the club’s top brass, he opined that Sarkar values the club.

“Sarkar loves his club more than anything, he tried his level best to do good for the club,” the Belgian quipped before adding, “Like we all do, with lots of mistakes. Because his knowledge of football and how to manage football is limited. There are too many big mistakes for a club like EB, that should be at the top in Asia,” he expressed.

While De Ridder had a kinder stance towards Debabrata Sarkar, he did not mince his words while speaking about club secretary, Kalyan Majumder.

“Majumder is another case, I did not speak to him a lot, but from what I remember are these words to me, at the end of the championship, without any respect – You did a very bad job, very bad, we are not happy!

That season, we won the Federation Cup, without conceding one goal, with a team that lost 5-3, if I remember correctly, against Mohun Bagan and they were trophy empty for many years. So, what can I say to a man who thinks like this? I was speechless!” he recalled.

“The answer is no, (Nitu) Sarkar and (Kalyan) Majumder don’t have what it takes to take the club ahead,” the former East Bengal boss stated.

While Philippe De Ridder felt the current top brass is not fit to run the club, he made it clear that his comments were not in bad taste and he was only thinking about the best for the club.

“I’m not throwing stones towards Nitu and Kalyan. They are trying their best. But, their football knowledge and people management isn’t at the height to take a club like East Bengal to the top of Asia, not even at the Indian level,” he concluded.

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