Calcutta: Barely three months into the job, McDowell Mohun Bagan coach Santosh Kashyap resigned on Saturday “taking full responsibility” for the team’s dismal start to the season.
The man who in his first press conference had spoken about how he wanted Bagan to play attractive football like Barcelona, faced a lot of flak after Bagan failed to qualify for the Federation Cup semi-final and suffered two consecutive losses in the I-League.
Unfit and under-prepared Bagan players looked all at sea whenever they took the field. Agreed Kashyap should take the maximum blame but what about the officials who signed players without thinking about the balance of the team? What about the players who are taking home fat pay cheques but not delivering?
“Our pre-season training was a farce. Odafe arrived way after the pre-season camp in Durgapur while Tolgay was busy sorting out the transfer mess. Then Nirmal Chetri, Syed Rahim Nabi, Jewel Raja and Arindam Bhattacharya went to the national camp and Khelemba Singh was down with dengue. But Kashyap did not have the courage to make these players slog later on. And we can see what has happened,” a senior player said.
Kashyap though said he enjoyed every day of his stay. “It was a challenging job, learnt a lot from this stint. I take responsibility as things were not going that way I would have wanted.”
That Kashyap would be going was a known fact after Bagan’s loss to Prayag United at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Friday. Angry fans lashed out at club secretary Anjan Mitra who slipped out of the stadium fearing more brickbats.
So who will be the new coach? Club officials are tight-lipped which means they are buying time. David Booth appears to be one of the frontrunners for the job even though Bagan’s very own Subrata Bhattacharya is also in the picture. Booth, who is right now coaching Phnom Penh Crown, is a free-man even though Crown wants to give him an extension.
Kashyap was Bagan’s seventh coach since 2008. Karim Bencharifa, Satyajit Chatterjee, Stanley Rozario, Subhash Bhowmick, Steven Darby, Subrata Bhattacharya all came and left as Bagan officials axed coaches at the drop of a hat. Only Karim brought reasonable success, winning the CFL, Federation Cup and finishing runners-up in the I-League.
Interestingly, Bagan’s Airlines Gold Cup final against Mohammedan is scheduled for Tuesday. But the final may get postponed after the Salt Lake Commissionerate, who were game in the morning, suddenly did a volte-face and refused to give green light.
“We will wait till Monday afternoon,” an IFA official said. If the match does not happen then it will be a huge relief for Bagan.
Presently the team is not in the right frame of mind and a loss to Mohammedan Sporting will only compound to Bagan’s woes.