Meet Mor­gan, Tinker­man by Ne­ces­sity

The East Ben­gal coach has done well deal­ing with in­juries and the pres­sure of ex­pec­ta­tion

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Atanu Mi­tra

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

TOI

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