The Mariners endured a topsy-turvy campaign and eventually needed a miracle to win the title on the final day which ultimately didn’t happen.

This edition of the I-League was like a rollercoaster ride for Mohun Bagan. The Mariners were termed as season favourites along with neighbours East Bengal before the start of the league campaign. Most of it was due to the absence of Bengaluru FC, who joined the Indian Super League. But, things did not turn out well for the grand old club.

Former I-league and Federation Cup-winning coach, Sanjay Sen was again at the helm to guide the side to another glorious year. Bagan’s campaign started with a decent draw against Minerva away from home and the team looked like a well-oiled machine until several key players got injured in a 5-0 thrashing of Churchill Brothers at the Barasat Stadium. It was the turning point in their campaign this season. From there they performed way below-par. Back-to-back draws against Lajong, NEROCA and Indian Arrows at home followed and the situation became even worse when the Mariners lost to Chennai City, who were a man down.

In a very chaotic spell, Sen was criticised for his ultra-defensive approach and he thought it was enough as he resigned after the shameful result. Assistant coach Shankarlal Chakraborty was given the duty to anchor the sinking ship and he did that job well. Chakraborty brought a positive touch to the team’s play and from there they did not lose a single away fixture in the whole I-League season. The Mariners must be disappointed with the 3rd placed finish this season.

To add to that Mohun Bagan were decent in the inaugural Super Cup as the team reached the semi-final, but were beaten by fair and square by a 10-men Bengaluru FC.                       

 Fact Sheet for Indian Season 2017-18

 Season Finished: 3rd

 Games Played: 21

Won : 10

Lost : 4

Drawn : 7

Win %: 47.61% 

   GF: 35 

GA: 20

Pre-Season

Mohun Bagan played in the Calcutta Football League and Chakroborty managed the club and the Mariners were pretty good as they remained undefeated throughout the CFL, but unfortunately, the draw against East Bengal on the final day saw them lifting the cup due to a better goal difference. Bagan then went on to lift the Sikkim Governor’s Cup, resulting in their first cup of the season. But, the Mariners were then thumped 4-1 by FC Goa in a pre-season friendly and later they even lost to FC Pune City 2-0 ending their average pre-season campaign.

Top Performers

Flop of the Season

Kingshuk Debnath: The veteran defender was the clear weak-link in the Bagan defence as the team was penalised numerous times for his needless fouls and silly mistakes. Throughout the season he seemed vulnerable beside Kingsley Obumneme and the defence seemed shaky. KIngshuk has become slower and has definitely left his best days behind him.

The 32-year-old centre-back always struggled against pacy forwards which resulted in conceding penalties and free-kicks in crucial areas. Debnath often brainlessly brought players down inside the box and conceded penalties. His performances were always closely scrutinised and after the heavy defeat in the Super Cup semi-final against Bengaluru, Bagan have parted ways with the veteran defender.

 

Top 3 Performances

         1. Mohun Bagan 5-0 Churchill Brothers (Report and highlights)

2. NEROCA FC 2-3 Mohun Bagan (Report and highlights)

3. East Bengal 0-2 Mohun Bagan (Report and highlights)

Manager’s Report Card 

Mohun Bagan started their league campaign with former I-league-winning coach Sen, but his defensive and negative football haunted the team big time. With Sen’s resignation, Shankarlal anchored the sinking ship and played a lot better brand of football. Shankarlal focused on wing-play and short passing which was completely opposite to Sen’s route one long-ball play.

Shankarlal gave a new dimension to the squad and the addition of Akram Moghrabi to support Dipanda Dicka was the best trump card he played, as the duo changed the complexion of the game for the Mariners.

Super Cup

Bagan started their Super Cup campaign with a good win over Churchill Brothers who had defeated Delhi Dynamos in the qualifying round. The Mariners then faced a Shillong Lajong side who came up as surprise winners over FC Pune City, but the Reds were beaten 3-1 by a superior Mohun Bagan side.

The Mariners were up against Bengaluru FC in the semi-final of the Super Cup. Bagan started well with a good lead thanks to a goal scored by talisman Dipanda Dicka. Bengaluru FC’s condition went from bad to worse when Nishu Kumar was sent off for deliberately bringing down Nikhil Kadam, who otherwise would have been one-on-one with the goalkeeper. But, the ISL table-toppers turned things around as Miku’s quickfire hat-trick and Sunil Chhetri’s stunning curler ended their campaign on a disappointing note.

Lessons to be Learned

Coach Chakraborty did all he could with the limited resources he had at his disposal. He guided the team really well and remained unbeaten away from home which is a great feat for any coach. He definitely brought the side back on track and finished in a respectable, yet disappointing third position in the league table.

Shankarlal was decent in the Super Cup as well, but in the semi-final match he accepted his faults in front of the media and he will only get better with time. When Bengaluru FC were a man down, Shankarlal should have told his team to attack and look for more goals and kill the game off. Instead his team continued with slow build-ups and possession play which allowed Bengaluru to come back into the game.

Fan View

 

 

Soumak Ghosh

It was a good start to the I-League season again from our side, but sadly some key players got injured at crucial moments. Our Haitian heart-throb Sony Norde got injured which ruled him out for the full season and Yuta Kinowaki’s injury which ruled him for a few games, were major blows for us which was reflected in our league performance and the resignation of Sanjoy Sen also made a huge impact because the performances under his reign were not up to the mark.

At the end of the season, I would like to thank our players and support staff for giving us immense joy because recovering from those tough situations and playing a good football at the end of the day isn’t a small deal. The season was not up to the mark, but still, we won the Sikkim Gold Cup and remained undefeated against East Bengal which was a silver lining.