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Football Reporting


ISL 2020-21: Robbie Fowler and East Bengal must be given time

The British coach is working with a lot of limitations and needs time to produce results…

Two matches, five goals conceded and zero goals scored. This isn’t the way East Bengal would have hoped to begin their journey in the Indian Super League (ISL).

After a disappointing loss against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan, Robbie Fowler’s men would have eyed the Mumbai City match as a platform to kickstart their campaign but the Islanders were just too hot to handle for an underprepared East Bengal side.

East Bengal were impressive in patches in the Kolkata derby despite the defeat but in their second match, an attacking side like Mumbai City exposed the team’s skeletons completely. 

The Red and Golds were the last team to enter the ISL this season and did not have much option while selecting the Indian contingent. Fowler then scrutinised the squad and selected the best and most importantly, the fittest options for the final squad.

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But there is no doubt that the East Bengal’s Indian contingent has a lightweight feel about them and it has hurt the team in the two matches so far.

Fowler may receive some flak from certain corners for throwing his players under the bus when he said after the match, “Few of them (Indians) have probably never been coached before and that is what we are doing. We will try and make our Indian players better and that takes good coaching and I don’t think they had had that in the years gone by.”

Although it could be a statement in the ‘heat of the moment’, the East Bengal fans must accept that their Indian contingent is far from the best and their preparations also has not been ideal.

The Liverpool great could have minced his words after a depressing defeat but that does not change the reality. With the lack of quality in the team and less pre-season training, it is unfair to blame the coach right away.

Anthony Pilkington, Mumbai City, East Bengal

East Bengal looked vulnerable in all departments and the injury to skipper Danny Fox within four minutes of the match added to their misery. Anthony Pilkington and Jacques Maghoma worked hard up front but they did not receive any support. They clearly lack a quality number 9 and that is one area which should have been filled with a proper foreign signing before the season started.

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The Kolkata giants will take time to settle, probably more time than any other club in the ISL. They have a completely new set of foreign players who are yet to adjust to the new conditions. Fowler will have to go back to the drawing board and chalk out a new plan to churn out results. East Bengal are still a work in progress and Fowler’s process must be given time. 

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