Kolkata: East Bengal’s misery this I-League season just got from bad to worse after their newly appointed interim coach Mridul Banerjee was injured in his first practice session with the team. Banerjee, a Santosh Trophy winning coach is said to have suffered from a ruptured Achilles Tendon which has ruled him out for the next four weeks to come. This forced the club to appoint a stop-gap coach in Ranjan Chowdhury to run the show.
After successive defeats in the I-League which includes an embarrassing defeat in the all-important Kolkata derby, Englishman Trevor James Morgan, who has been coaching the Red and Gold brigade from last year’s Federation Cup voluntarily resigned, giving up the reins of the team. And it was in less than 12 hours that Mridul Banerjee was named his successor, who would be with the team till the Federation Cup, which is to be held in less than a month’s time.
In his first training session with the team, Mridul, who is a former Mohammedan Sporting AFC-A License holder coach landed on an uneven surface and fell down badly, following which he is said to have injured his left foot. East Bengal would surely miss his experience and knowledge of the game, as their misery continues in this season.
And quite justifiably, the 56 year old rues this missed opportunity of his to work with the Red and Gold brigade. After getting discharged from the hospital, he reacted emotionally saying, “I’ve ruptured my Achilles tendon and will be out of action for at least four weeks. I wanted to give it all for East Bengal in the remainder season but such a big opportunity is wasted in such a cruel manner.”
But wait! That isn’t the end of the drama here. After learning about the seriousness of Mridul’s injury which would rule him out for four weeks, East Bengal wasted little time and appointed former Mohammedan Head Coach Ranjan Chowdhury as the stop gap coach to handle the reins of the team in the remaining matches. Ranjan, who was Morgan’s assistant coach in the former’s first stint with the club in 2010-2013 would be designated as the “assistant coach” while Mridul would still be the “registered coach.”
East Bengal’s secretary Kalyan Majumdar reacted to Ranjan’s appointment saying, “We have decided to appoint Ranjan as the assistant coach and he will be registered among the officials so that he can sit on the dug out.”
And Ranjan himself, in an interaction with XtraTime, said, “Yes I got a call from Manoranjan Bhattacharya as he wants me to work in the remaining part of the I-League. He asked me to come on tomorrow to brief me about my job and I will go accordingly. Then I will start my work.”
But the problem lies in the fact that, under the I-League rules and regulations, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) only allows a team to work with a ‘B’ license coach until they find an ‘A’ level coach. Ranjan is a ‘B’ licensed coach as I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar alloted time to East Bengal to rope in an ‘A’ level coach considering their present situation.
“Yes, East Bengal can get nine to ten days time to appoint an A-License coach, considering the situation they are in at the moment” said Dhar.
East Bengal’s miseries thus continue to pile up going into the Federation Cup which is beginning in less than a month.
Morgan’s exit due to poor performances by the team isn’t something new as last year, his predecessor- Biswajit Bhattacharya resigned too, citing the same reason when his team was humbled 3-1 by Bengaluru FC, which put to rest their title hopes.
This year too, their title challenge looks all but over after a series of defeats. They are now at the third position after Aizawl FC and arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
If Morgan’s resignation would dent their confidences, then they would surely miss the services of Banerjee, who is no less than an absolute asset to have in the coaching staff of one’s team. As supporters, we could just sit back and hope that things fall into place for East Bengal and their miseries are put to rest someday.
(With inputs form xtratime.in and Indian Express)