Last week Santosh Kashyap became the latest victim of coaching carousel in Mohun Bagan. The club which is one of the most lauded ones in Indian football has now fallen into torrid times and an utterly shameful state of mismanagement as they struggle to muster a title challenge in national level. With Kashyap’s exit, Mohun Bagan have started looking for a new coach and a plethora of coaches, including the likes of Bob Houghton and Robin Dutt have been linked to the club. At this rate, the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will be linked to the club in some time!
Officials – Destroying Mohun Bagan bit by bit
So, will the new coach solve all of Mohun Bagan’s problems? Hardly. The root to all the problems behind Asia’s oldest club still remains – club officials. A section of Mohun Bagan officials have turned the club into personal fiefdom where football acumen takes a backseat to nepotism. These officials are mostly people who lack technical knowledge about the game and this reflects directly on the team composition they make. For Mohun Bagan officials, the club and its legacy don’t come before their personal ego fights.
In 1980’s Bengali film “Bancharamer Bagan” (the Garden of Bancharam), famous Bengali playwright Manoj Mitra uttered an often repeated dialogue which can be translated as “my beautiful garden has now fallen to bad times”. Perhaps the legendary Mohun Bagan officials like Dhiren Dey and Sailen Manna are saying the same thing from heaven when looking at the condition of the club. Dey is still fondly recalled for his enviable achievements in the club. Chuni Goswami once described Mohun Bagan squad as a disciplined group of regimented soldiers during Dey’s time – things like these sound mythical these days.
The list of complaints against Mohun Bagan officials is unending. Thanks to lack of opposition they are re-elected to club’s board without any competition, though allegations of buying votes has always done rounds. Lack of opposition also means they don’t have any pressure to actually do something worthwhile for the club. Right now the club has zero future planning and its reputation has taken a severe beating thanks to whims of these officials. They often end up over-spending for sub-standard players while Mohun Bagan-SAIL Academy continues to struggle for lack of funds. During transfer window they often rely on gimmick signing to appease fans temporarily but almost always fail to create a well balanced team. There are also allegations that club officials themselves siphon off money from transfer funds for their personal gain.
And then there is the issue with how they treat football coaches. In Damned United there is a dialogue that goes like this, “…chairman is the boss, then comes the directors…then the secretary, then the fans, then the players…and then finally, last of all…bottom of the heap, the lowest of the low…comes the one, who in the end, we can all do without…the f****** manager.” Do the Mohun Bagan officials believe in this principle which dates back to more than four decades before? Their treatment of coaches suddenly seems to suggest it. In last 25 years Mohun Bagan has gone through 39 different coaches, seven in last 3 years. The officials have often dished out absolutely disgraceful treatment to coaches and made scapegoat out of them in order to save their own hide.
These officials usually discard a coach at end of a season, often due to ludicrous reasons or none at all. Then during the transfer window they construct a team which doesn’t have any balance at all. When the team is completed a coach is installed on top of a squad which he didn’t recommend in the first place. And should the coach fail, which going by football logic is most likely, then officials, instead of taking the blame on themselves sack the coach. In Mohun Bagan teams and coaches suffer a sea of change every single season, the only thing that doesn’t change are officials who are most responsible for the current hapless condition.
Coaches who do not have a past record of success are often brought, like Santosh Kashyap, who according to some sources was employed because of his personal connection to a Mohun Bagan official, rather than his record as coach. This shameful treatment of coaches have also tarnished the reputation of the club as it is now very clear that some of the high profile coaches are thinking twice before deciding to work under these club officials.
Mohun Bagan fans have now woken up to the virus that is infecting their beloved club. In past few weeks fans have organized peaceful protest against club officials multiple times. The protests started on a small scale but have gathered wind with passing days. The officials, as expected, have not responded kindly. One of them had the audacity to dismiss these fans as “external elements” while there have been allegations that they are using press aligned with them to spread negative propaganda about people protesting against them.
Mohun Bagan officials should know that it is these fans who have made Mohun Bagan the club it is today. In a country where clubs struggle to draw crowds it is these fans who make sacrifices in their personal lives to stand by the club. If they are taken for granted then that day will not be far away when Mohun Bagan follows the path of Mohammedan SC. Mohammedan, one of the most glamorous clubs in India once is now reduced to a non-entity in national level football, mostly due to three decade long mismanagement. Mohammedan matches in Delhi during Durand Cup used to draw thousands of people once but few hundred showed up this year. Even their legendary fan base has now lost enthusiasm for the club and if the current trend continues a day will come when the Green & Maroon supporters will also lose all hope on their club.
Mohun Bagan need a change of guard, fast. Indian football is trying to move towards future but one of the institutions of the game in the country is still stuck in pre-historic times. Even arch-rivals East Bengal have shown encouraging signs of modernizing by showing faith in Trevor James Morgan and have focused on long term goals. There have been cases of problems between Morgan and the officials but they have not put personal ego before the greater good of the club. Mohun Bagan need a professional, transparent management to achieve long terms goals and not short term fixes and patchwork.