Meet Morgan, Tinkerman by Necessity
The East Bengal coach has done well dealing with injuries and the pressure of expectation
Last week was tumultuous for Trevor James Morgan and his team. They lost to Aizawl FC, a result that brought to a halt a ninematch unbeaten run in the I-League. Immediately after, Kalyan Majumder, the club secretary, reportedly played down the club’s chances of winning the title, despite it being just the won loss.
“We don’t have any chance to win the I-League,” he told Sangbad Pratidin, a Bengali publication. “I had told a friend yesterday that we would lose to Aizawl. It’s the failure of the coach to motivate the players,” he added.
A defeat against defending champions Bengaluru FC would have resulted in all hell breaking loose and with key players Willis Plaza and Lalrindika Ralte missing, the coach had his hands full.
How his team responded to this litmus test has to be one of the high points of Morgan’s coaching career in India, during which he has won nine trophies with the club. It was not only a test of tactics against the league’s most highprofile coach, but also a test of character for a club that has not won the league title in 12 years.
And with their first win in four matches, the club reclaimed their berth at the top of the league table while Albert Roca’s frantic tactical change to counter East Bengal’s play was a testament to Morgan’s shrewd planning for the big fixture.
There was criticism about using both Mehtab Hossain and Rowllin Borges, given that they are not adept at creating moves from the back. East Bengal had failed to win two of the three matches in which they had started together, including the recent drubbing at Aizawl.
However, the duo started together again, and it paid dividends as East Bengal were not outnumbered in the middle against the Blues who lined with three at the back and two wingbacks. Sunil Chhetri, in the hole, was marked heavily by his former teammate Hossain, while Borges was able to provide additional cover for both fullbacks. “We had the same preparation against Aizawl, but not this kind of a performance. Players were excited to play today as the surface and the atmosphere was perfect for the game,” Morgan said during the post-match press conference.
It was a show of intent – the team fought well despite their limitations coming to the fore at times. Wedson Anselme, who was criticised for his unwillingness to release the ball early, was rewarded for his trickery as he scored a stunner in the first half to break the deadlock. Bengaluru had rightly
Robin Singh celebrates a goal against BFC