Let us start with a quiz.

Question 1)

What is common between: a) Royal Wahingdoh b) Shillong Lajong FC c) Police AC (West Bengal) ?

Question 2)

What is common between: a) Karim Bencharifa b) Stanley Rozario c) Subhash Bhowmick d) Steve Darby ?

The answers are as follows:

All are football clubs of the lower circuit in India largely consisting of bunches of young and unknown but hungry players. Most importantly, all three have defeated the National Club of India, Mohun Bagan, this season.

All four are well-known coaches boasting of successful club stints, especially Steve Darby who is a renowned coach in Asian region. But again most importantly all four have been shown the door by Mohun Bagan officials for not delivering good results from a team solely chosen by the and not the coaches.

During the 1960s, 70s, 80s the Green and Maroon supporters glowed with pride owing to the clubai??i??s glorious results. Rovers Cup, Durand Cup, Federation Cup, Kolkata League and every other trophy in India found their place in the club tent. There were disappointing results but they were few and far between, save a disastrous period in early 70s.

Embarrassing Loss in “Lucky Tournament”

Coming back from the flashback period, enter 2011 and the rumours of transfer markets did show a lot of promise to thousands of Bagan fans. After all, the last season was one which none of the Mariners would like to remember. A trophy-less season with changing coach in mid-season added to the pain of not being able to defeat arch-rivals East Bengal even once. The fans hoped that 2011 would heal all open wounds. Then the day came when this yearai??i??s team was announced amidst much fanfare. Odafa Okalieai??i??s transfer, the biggest in India football history made all the headlines but the squad lacked balance in other areas. Yet again a bunch of injured players, a wafer-thin defence and heavy spending on strike force made its way to the tent. It is slowly becoming clear that even Odafa has come in with an injury.

.

Is he fully fit ?

 

Still the fans had hope that ai???lucky tournamentai??? Fed Cup would yet again make its way to the tent. The Fed Cup campaign ended in a disaster. Minnows Royal Wahingdoh inflicted an embarrassing defeat, Shillong Lajong FC made Mohun Bagan dance to its tunes and the team drew with Churchill Brothers in an inconsequential match. It was then that the officials did what they do best, changing coaches. Steve Darby went out, making way for a core committee fronted by Subrata Bhattacharya-Prasanta Banerjee pair. A coach of caliber like Darby was handed over his return flight ticket, only because he could not squeeze out results with injured legs, incompetent defence and a lifeless midfield selected only by the officials.

This has led to angry reactions from the fans towards the officials. Sadly, the year marked 100 years of the historic IFA Shield win for Bagan. Had they lived now, the stalwarts of the 1911 team would surely be disheartened to see the condition of their beloved club.

Errors in Player Recruitment

What is the role of the coach Mohun Bagan? Is he just an employee working under officials and has to do as directed by them with no control, on team selection whatsoever? From Bencharifa to Satyajit Chatterjee to Biswajit Bhattacharjee to Stanley to Bhowmick, how many coaches will the club change? The most challenging and miserable job at this point of time seems to be that of a Green and Maroon coach. Last season a high point was a berth in Fed Cup final after humiliating eventual I League champions Salgaocar. This season, till now the high seems to be eking out a win against East Bengal and showing some promise in I League.

And lows? It did not stop at Fed Cup. The oldest club of Asia managed a draw with Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata Football League by a margin of 0-0 which could easily have been 3-1 or 4-1 in favor of the Black Panthers. It got even worse in the next KFL match – losing to Police AC (bottom placed in Kolkata League) by a solitary goal. During last few matches it has never seemed that this is a team worth Rs. 13 crores. Almost every I League club has benefited from its Asia-Oceania quota be it Churchillai??i??s Antun Kovacic or East Bengalai??i??s Tolgay Ozebey. But Mohun Bagan has done nothing with it; they’ve only brought in poor and unfit defenders like Diamondstar, Simon Storey or newly recruited Daniel Zeleny.

Lack of Facilities

Mohun Bagan boasts of a joint academy with SAIL in Durgapur. But yet again the club fails to benefit from it. Young talents like Reisangmei Vashum and Shankar Oraon are all products of this academy. But instead of being recruited to their mother club, they are all catching the eyes of other recruiters. Last year East Bengal conquered Fed Cup final courtesy a goal by Vashum. Even having a representative of the club in the much coveted FIFA panel doesnai??i??t help the cause.

As Steve Darby rightly pointed out, the club facilities are in a dismal shape. The premises do not even have a proper gymnasium or washing machine for playerai??i??s jerseys. This doesnai??i??t befit a 112-year old club boasting one of the largest fan bases in Asia. Unrest has spread amongst the passionate supporters many times in last two years. Sadly, the supportersai??i?? emotions are often dismissed mercilessly by Mohun Bagan administration. Every time they protest after a loss, protestors are dubbed as ones who are not ai???realai??? supporters of the club. Presently thereai??i??s just one comment ringing in the ears of most Green and Maroon supporters, the one which was made by Police AC coach Sisir Ghosh after his teamai??i??s win: ai??i??Even Sir Alex Ferguson cannot do anything with this teamai??i??.

.


Darby, a victim of circumstances ?

.

It isnai??i??t that the last few years that the club hasnai??i??t tasted any success. Few Fed Cups, a Super Cup, coming close to winning I League and a hat-trick of Kolkata League titles between 2007 and 2009. But present failures seem powerful enough to overshadow them all. Kolkata League title hopes seem pretty bleak right now with East Bengal pulling ahead of in the title race. The only respite in this situation is Subrata Bhattacharya, fondly known as ai???Bablu Daai??i?? to whom supporters can look up to even in this crisis situation.

A lot of matches are still left in the I League and the club can overturn its fortunes with some prudent transfers in winter. Whether the Goa monopoly will be stopped is a question of the future but presently the boat seems to be stuck mid-sea with no fixed direction. The current condition is best summed up by a leading website on Mohun Bagan-ai???We are rightly proud of our heritage but that is only because we are ashamed of our presentai??i??.

~ Akash Pyne

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4 Responses to “Indian Football : Mohun Bagan And It’s Problems”

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  1. Shami says:

    I think Mohun Bagan Officials are focussing too much on off-the-field success.. Recruiting Big names without considering the balance in the team.. Frequent appointment and sacking of coaches, Bragging and nagging WB Govt, AIFF and IFA with everything in the world (as if they are the only affected party), Letter writing, Managing referee for wining matches in the name of Home side organizing a home match are few examples. This makes the actual playing XI complacent and they are not keen in showing their capability of the ground.. If officials do not change their attitude they can win by their voice or sometimes by virtue of money.. but in most cases they will end up as loosers (in field or in spirit of the game) !

  2. Santanu says:

    The article has rightly pointed out the problems with the present set up in the club. Two three officials under the patronage of club President think they know everything about football. They do not bother about any long term planning, only think that money can solve all the problems.
    Its really sad that despite running football academies the club do not have any worthwhile U-19 player in its roster while some of the graduates from its academies have become integarl part of other teams.
    In recent years they have spent huge amounts for 1-2 players but not bothering about overall team structure. They can spend huge amount for less than 100% fit striker but don’t find funds for a suitable defender. Due to several changes in the team formation, the club has also failed to form a cohesive unit.
    Barreto is indeed the pride of the club in the last decade, but he is ageing and the club is depending on him too much; even for recruitment of players. At this stage of his career he is unlikely to be gamechanger too often. Club needs to look beyond him.
    Lastly about Subrata Bhattacharya. He is not doing too badly but sometimes his prejudices can affect the club. He needs to unite all the players and despite all shortcomings in the team formation, a better defence organisation is expected. He has to work on that.
    I am not too sure how much the club change through the winter transfer window but the planning for the next year should start NOW. The so called technical committee and coaches should be given the mandate to form a balanced team and officials should support them instead of pulling each other.

  3. Sreerup says:

    A small correction: the club is 122 year old, not 112 year, although it does not affect the main points raised in the article, and sadly the points are valid ones.

  4. Shomu says:

    The problem with Mohun Bagan are in plenty, which are:
    1. Unlike any other clubs of India, this is not just a football club – it is an institution which is widely revered across the globe(not necessarily b’coz of producing iconic stars/winning international trophies, but b’coz of its heritage); the disadvantage of being associated with such an institution is that there are far too many people who “uses” the brand MohunBagan name for their vested interest – what is sad is that they do it and consolidate their position in the society but all that at the cost of the dwindling club fortune.
    2.Less accountable club members/officials – for a fan base club, it is important for the officials to be 100% honest in the way they are recruiting footballers/be transparent in their dealings and to hold themselves accountable for their conduct. In today’s professional world, one cannot have footballers who would be loyal to the club(Barreto and Subrata Bhattacharya being an exception),but it is absolutely imperative that the club need to sign up players who are aligned to the history of the club – players who would be proud while donning the club jersey( the green n maroon jersey has to be earned and CANNOT be taken for granted by any means).
    3. No individual is above the organisation/institution: Anybody from outside can make out the ego of the club officials when it comes to recruiting half-fit footballers,shoeing away coaches(remember how Karim Bencharifa was shown the door – the only coach who believed in the right process and therefore produced results/had bonded the team well/had the courage to bring up so many new comers out of no where). The officials clearly felt uncomfortable with the coach’s growing popularity and hence timed their action to perfection by ousting him! And no one needs to be reminded what Karim went on to do with Salgaocar sans any superstar in the team.
    4. While it is easier for us to analyse from outside, but so far as the fortune of MohunBagan is concerned(am a die hard fan of this club),the club doesn’t seem to learn from the same mistake and that is reflected in the results that is being produced by the players in the last one and half years. It is nothing surprising and I feel players are not to be blamed for this debacle. We need a far more professional and transparent approach to run the system. In any team sports,any club cannot produce results by just banking on few superstars while disturbing the balance of the team by their wayward recruitment! Even in an individual sport like tennis,Roger Federer has a strong team/support function for which he has been on top for a sustainable period.