Five reasons behind Mohun Bagan's disastrous I-League season so far
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
Following the narrow win the season's first Kolkata Derby the Mariners' campaign has gone from bad to worse.
Mohun Bagan have had a season to forget in the I-league so far, with the Mariners only managing to win three games from their first 10 and ending up being an absolute disappointment. They were once regarded as one of the favorites to win the I-League title and with the absence of Bengaluru FC and Aizawl FC being torn off their core championship winning players, many thought it was a battle between them and rivals East Bengal for the league.
While rivals East Bengal have flown high and are currently competing for the league, Bagan are 5th in the table and have been poor ever since their fantastic 5-0 win against Churchill Brothers after the Kolkata Derby. It's almost been like they've been stripped of their good form, with injury problems and issues regarding their management plaguing their campaign to the extent that it seems almost impossible for the Mariners to compete for the title this season.
There can be many things which can be held responsible for their dismal fall from grace, which has been a tough one to take for their supporters. So Let's take a look at the 5 reasons for Mohun Bagan's Fall This Season.
5. Scarcity of creativity without Sony Norde
Sony Norde was set to be the crown jewel for Mohun Bagan this season when the Mariners went all in for the Haitian and paid him a record amount to retain his services for the season and lure him away from Mumbai City FC. He repaid their faith by playing really well in the first three matches, where he scored two goals and assisted a few as well. But, he ended up suffering an injury against Churchill Brothers, which would be a turning point for their season.
Without their captain, Bagan looked a shadow of the side which ran through their opponents in the first three matches of the season. The Mariners played their Indian core in the likes of Sk Faiaz and Nikhil Kadam, but they were unable to create anything like what Norde does for them. It only got worse when Norde's injury was picked up against Neroca FC and Bagan struggled to find any alternatives to his creativity.
Ansumana Kromah failed to play to his potential without Norde and struggled to create for Dipanda Dicka, while neither of Faiaz, Kadam nor Shilton D'Silva, and Raynier Fernandes could bring that spark in midfield for them. This resulted in some boring draws and many points being dropped, culminating in the end of their title hunt.
Sony Norde's injury has hit Mohun Bagan very hard
4. ISL Distraction
Mohun Bagan were front-runners to be introduced in the Indian Super League this season, with the Mariners working their hardest to get a spot in the "A League" of Indian Football. They were quite adamant at getting into the league and seemed sure that a club of their stature would be given entry, but that distraction turned out to be costly for them. Not only were they not given a spot in the ISL, but they also saw much of their core Indian base prefer playing in that league.
Jeje Lalpekhlua played for Mohun Bagan last season but chose to stay with Chennaiyin FC.
It meant that Bagan were left with much of their rather weaker Indian players and the distraction from the ISL didn't let them find able replacements for their top Indian talents either. They even went through with their pre-season campaign in the hopes to get a last-minute spot in ISL, but that was just not to be and Mohun Bagan's failure to find proper replacements for their top stars meant they started the league with some average players.
They didn't even play the talented Chesterpaul Lyngdoh who could've been a replacement for Katsumi Yusa, while their mediocre foreign signings couldn't make the impact like Yusa or Darryl Duffy and that meant that much of the pressure would have to be carried by Sony Norde, who has been injured for much of the season.
3. Lack Of Clinical Finishers
The Mariners may have been flying high after their triumphant derby win against East Bengal, but they were were brought back to earth after the Haitian suffered an injury against Churchill Brothers. While The Mariners did score seven goals in their first three games, they scored only three in their next four after that, which really dampened the chances of them competing for the I-League this season.
After having competed for the league consistently in the last few years and only missing out on it by a point in the past two seasons, Bagan are now looking in dire straights and will need to work hard to even finish in second place.
One of the key reasons for their downfall has been their inability to convert chances and the lack of proper goalscorers in the team has cost them many points this season.
Kromah hasn't been sharp in front of goal either, while the shocking statistic of only one Indian goalscorer for the Mariners so far this season proves their worrisome condition. They have badly missed the instinctive Balwant Singh or the terrific Jeje Lalpekhlua.
2. Lack Of Depth In Midfield
Mohun Bagan's midfield last season was really something to behold, as the Mariners had some of the best midfielders in the country with an unreal depth to their squad as well. But, when most of their prized assets left for the ISL this season, Bagan failed to act on that and couldn't snap up any necessary replacements for those players. They were left with only a handful of midfielders and when Yuta Kinowaki got injured, things turned dire for them.
The Mariners were left with essentially two able midfielders in Shilton and Raynier, both of whom are yet to prove themselves at the top level. The chemistry between the two has been dull and they have failed to impress in Bagan's terrible run of five games without a win.
They couldn't even look to someone else, as Surchandra Singh or Pintu Mahata weren't ready for the grueling I-League. Their inability to retain Katsumi Yusa hit them hard as Kromah couldn't inspire the midfield either, with Bagan's lightweight midfield often making it easier for the opponents to take points off them.
This real lack of depth in their midfield essentially prevented them from breaking down teams and made them lose many points and the recent introduction of Cameron Watson hasn't really helped improve things, proving how Bagan need to heavily invest to make their midfield core strong once again.
1. Injury-Crisis After The Kolkata Derby
Mohun Bagan looked to fulfill the predictions of many putting them as favorites to win the I-League with a stunning start to the season, which saw them win two of their first three games with much conviction. But injuries to Sony Norde, Yuta Kinowaki, Arijit Bagui and Ansumane Kromah suffered against Churchill Brothers rocked their season, which went spiraling downwards after that point.The Mariners looked a broken side without their key players, as they played some average football and failed to get three points from winnable home games.
This injury-crisis was partly reason for Sanjoy Sen's poor tactics in the Churchill Brothers game when he didn't take off Norde or Kromah when they were struggling, while The Mariners were also unlucky to have suffered those in the bad Barasat Stadium pitch. But one thing which came to bite them back was letting go of their physical trainer Miranda Garcia, who joined East Bengal along with efficient play-maker Katsumi Yusa.
Garcia was vital at containing injuries for them over the years and they really felt his absence this season, with all these injuries putting a stop to their dominance. The injuries badly deterred Bagan's season after that Churchill game, as Karma would come back to bite them for letting go of Garcia and Katsumi, both who were instrumental in their success over the years.
Published: Thu Jan 11, 2018 04:53 PM IST