The East Bengal gaffer stressed that it’s not going to be all about what they have to do to stop Goa from playing on Wednesday…
It took East Bengal eight games to pick their first win in the Indian Super League (ISL), notching a 3-1 victory over Odisha FC earlier this week. Now, they are looking to kick on and put some points in their bag.
The Red and Golds’ coach Robbie Fowler is happy with the term “monkey off your back” as he looks forward to a fresh challenge from FC Goa on Wednesday.
“It’s the statement we’ve been trying to make all the while. We want to win games. Of course, the lads are probably in a better space now than they were probably a few weeks ago. But like I said to them, go out there and play the way you can. If we play the way we can, we’re not a million miles away.
“We won a game but we won’t get carried away, like when we lost a game early in the season we weren’t getting carried away then. I think, in football, you need some time to get the rough off the smooth. Sometimes results go against you, sometimes they go for you. It’s not a case of we’re not where we want to be. The fundamental thing is, we’re always working to get the right results,” he said.
The Liverpool legend refused to admit that Odisha were easier opponents compared to their next two opponents in Goa and Bengaluru. However, he feels that playing two teams in a short period of time will challenge his players.
“I don’t think they (Goa and Bengaluru) are tricker games. I think the only tricky part is that we’re playing the games in short succession. That is football and sometimes, how fixture lists are planned out. It’s not ideal for us because everyone knows what our squad is and what we’re working with. Regardless of what people say, the Odisha game was a tough game. They made it difficult and sometimes when teams are at the bottom, the teams can be harder. No disrespect to any of the other teams who are playing tough games,” Fowler mentioned.
Fowler, however, was not taking FC Goa lightly. But he was firm in his belief that his players have what it takes to beat Goa.
“It’s a totally different game. We obviously know Goa, with the players they got, it’s an incredibly tough game. All games are tough but we go into this one with a little bit of more confidence because of that result (East Bengal’s 3-1 win over Odisha). At times, we’ve played good football and there have also been times where we could have done better in possession. It’s up to the players to work things out on the pitch and we’ll give them all the help leading on to the pitch and shout it out from the sidelines.
Fowler meanwhile admitted that with the new addition of Nigerian forward Bright Enobakhare, who scored against Odisha, will give him options to tweak the squad.
“That’s the good thing about having good players in the squad. So the addition of Bright obviously does give you a headache. When you have good players now, you have an option to go with different formations if you like or different personnel in the team,” he remarked.
East Bengal, with six points from eight matches, are second from the bottom and have the joint-worst record (14, with Odisha) for the number of goals conceded. But that’s not something that is concerning the former England international.
“It’s not nice conceding goals. But the way I’m looking at it, in the first three to four games, it was the forwards having problems (converting chances). No one mentioned the defense [back then] and now all of a sudden the defense is a problem. The other day we conceded a goal in the 94th minute against a team who were fighting for their lives. You want to keep clean sheets but sometimes you have to give the opposition credit.
“Regardless of what people say about us, we are fighting for our lives. We know that. Players will make a few mistakes because they are a little tense but we’ll go into the game with that little bit of more confidence. Teams will score [against you] but the important thing is the result. If I was to go conceding two goals for the rest of the season but we win every game, I would be delighted.
“We have to go out there every game with aspirations of winning the game. Of course, we want to challenge for the top four and we’ll do it. Certainly, mathematically, it’s not over. Until it is [over], we are going to give everything that we have got and show people what we are made of.”
That being said, Fowler pointed out that there have been teams who have beaten Goa this season and it will be up to his men to enact their plan to do the same.
“Other teams have beaten Goa this season. We have looked that down and we have seen a little negative stuff about them (Goa). There is more positive stuff but it’s not about Goa, it’s how we play – what we do with the ball, how we keep possession, whether we make mistakes in the right areas.
“Of course, Goa will have a little bit of possession but then it’s up to our players to work hard and get into certain areas with defenders communicating with each other. Hopefully, we will put the ball in the back of the net and give Goa something to worry about as well. So it’s not all about what we are going to do to stop them from playing. We want a good result ourselves,” he signed off.