The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mohun Bagan need a change in attitude

An eventful season has come to an end. The Big Two stand on different planes. The story, the backdrop and hence the mood cut separate figures. They also reflect a polar contrast in the fortune of two coaches.

All this is not without reason and is not difficult to understand. Itís been a tale of two approaches. One trying to chalk things out methodically and the other ignoring the fact that method is after all a tested recipe for success.

Both clubs, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, were functioning under nearly the same amount of monetary allocations, mind you. It was evident in their ways of going about things, almost everything. One club took care in selecting players, with extra attention on reserve strength, and the other went the opposite way.

Mohun Bagan didnít really care about anything off the field that constitutes such an important element in a teamís formula for success. Now, the impact of this ignorance can be kept under manageable limits if it is treated as a one-off incident.

Lack of success in a season is part of the package in a competitive structure which can be overcome if lessons are learnt from failure. But for Mohun Bagan, itís going to be a question of change in attitude.

One of Indiaís oldest and arguably the most successful clubs, things in Mohun Bagan this season didnít suggest they were heading in the right direction. Itís an error that can be rectified but the action has to be fast. Otherwise, it might get a bit deep and that will slacken the process of healing.

Mohun Bagan look shockingly disorganised with trouble and conflict grasping all levels of club management: from the administrative top brass to the lesser rungs.

These things had been there for a while but are now extending their ugly tentacles into matters of football and therefore doesnít augur well for an institution as pivotal in Indian football as Mohun Bagan.

Itís not a wonder that clashes will be there in a system trying to move towards the mainstream of world football, but the brains behind Mohun Bagan need not go far beyond the Maidan to see that they should not necessarily hinder progress.

The way the coaches, Subhas Bhowmick and Subrata Bhattacharya, approached their jobs presents a true picture of the state of affairs in the two clubs. Bhowmick showed how he has matured after a few unsuccessful stints as coach and took special care in forming the kind of force he was looking to. Itís good to see him get rewarded after loads of sacrifice and hard work.

Bhowmick showed he has learnt the importance of certain basics which can become decisive if the difference in quality of the teams isnít too stark.

Right from the start of the season, he paid attention to the off-the-ball and off-the-field drills that keep the players ready for a prolonged grind.

Most creditable has been Bhowmickís demeanour. He has rarely been provoked by circumstances and has maintained a calm and thoughtful front even under pressure.

The way he kept his charges fit and hungry during a long break at a crucial phase of the National League was particularly commendable and itís good to note that he hasnít been overtly elated after achieving what must have been a cherished goal. I am happy to see him aspire.

It hasnít been as good for Subrata, but he shouldnít be too disheartened. What must give him confidence is the fact that he knows how it feels at the top. There is no question about his commitment and love for Mohun Bagan, but Subrata must understand he canít single-handedly assume all responsibilities.

His concern for certain things may be genuine but his method of sorting things out is not always exceptional. Subrata must also remember that itís not prudent to publicly blame your players during bad patches.

Having said that, I admit that Subrata didnít deserve to be sacked. His success-list is there for everyone to see and one bad season is just not long enough to assess the merit of a coach. It only shows how things ought not to be done in a club as esteemed and beloved as Mohun Bagan. I hope people concerned learn from it. Itís time they did.

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