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We are a team of champions and we will only play to win-Mridul Banerjee


The Santosh Trophy winning head coach picked up amn injury on the first day of traing but is sert to take chatrge of the team during the Federation Cup...

A lot of water has drifted down in the nearby Ganges since East Bengal head coach Trevor Morgan resigned from his role earlier this month. Immediatey after his resignation, the century old club had appointed the Santosh Trophy 2017 winning coach, Mridul Banerjee on an urgent and interim basis until the end of the Federation Cup.

The veteran coach, who had previously managed both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan as an assistant coach in the past and was the head coach of fallen giants Mohammedan SC as well, was an immediate acquisition but could not kick-start his regime as the newly appointed coach broke his leg in his first training session with the East Bengal squad, which forced him to the sidelines for a month. However, the club have decided to keep him as their head coach for the time being and acquired Ranjan Chaudhuri from neighbors Mohammedan.

However. As Mridul Banerjee nears a quick recovery, the experienced coach talked to Khel Now’s Kushankur Rakshit and indicated a massive overhaul in the century old club’s management procedure.

After several tries over the phone, we caught the attention of the recently appointed coach, drowning in his works in a late evening. Work?  We were surprised to hear the answer of Banerjee when he faced the question about the work he was doing at such an odd hour. “I’m creating the practice schedule for tomorrow,” a smiling and calm Mridul Banerjee replied to our reporter on the other side of the phone, being ignorant of his injury the next day that would delay his East Bengal debut for a month. 

If you are one of the Maydan regulars we see almost every day, then you would surely know that creating such schedules has been obsolete for so many years now and was once considered as one of the most significant perks of a coach’s job. After hearing Banerjee’s reaction, we could not help ourselves but wonder about the good times the Red and Gold Brigade are in for in the near future.

Despite catching Banerjee on short notice, the former Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan coach was surprisingly composed and unagitated by the sudden intrusion of his privacy. In our conversation, the Bengali coach talked extensively about him, his teams of the past and about his aims with East Bengal as well as giving a detailed squad analysis.

“I am the one responsible for choosing the team, but if the team is successful it is because of the players,” said Banerjee. “I will ask all the players about their preferred positions on the pitch. When I am informed about all of their positions, I will create my strategy based on that only,” was another pitcher that at the same time surprised and amazed us.

As we have all seen, both in world and Indian football, different coaches and managers bring different philosophies and different approaches to the game which at times includes the coach’s philosophy of interchanging a player’s position which often leads to dropping of performance in the player’s gameplay. We had seen it before at East Bengal when Trevor Morgan could not recognise the best position of Wedson Anselme, forcing Rowlin Borges to play the much-advanced role of a regista while he is far from being one and deploying counter attacking tactics with players who could not pass the ball in the final third. All of these led to the  disasterous form the century-old club has experienced in recent weeks, and if Banerjee’s words come true, there is not a shadow of a doubt that the East Bengal faithful are in for a grand ride in the future.

Despite the rising concerns from the club faithful as well as the general mass about the quality of the East Bengal squad, Banerjee revealed that he does not have any doubts of the qualities of the team. “We have an excellent team. It is a team that can be title contenders,” he said. However, an instant answer awaited us when we asked him about the title and his objective, “Why? Champions of the Federation Cup obviously! East Bengal is a team of champions, and they only play to win.”

The coach had a message for the players. “I will just tell them to play without any extra pressure. They need to play with an open mind,” he said. Banerjee also went on to say that he does not approve of adding any personal propaganda on the players and he will ensure this does not happen.


Published: Tue Apr 25, 2017 02:59 PM IST


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