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ISL 2020-21: Robbie Fowler was right all along, all he needed was time

ISL 2020-21: Robbie Fowler was right all along, all he needed was time

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 15 Jan 2021 5:46 AM GMT

Since the start of the Indian Super League (ISL) season, a lot has been said about SC East Bengal’s vulnerabilities under Robbie Fowler. Initially, although they did show glimpses of the free-flowing football that the Liverpool legend wants his side to play, their profligacy in front of goal and defensive mistakes proved to be their undoing. However, since the turn of the year, their form has seen an upturn and they’ve recorded their first two victories of the season.


“Positives from the game? Probably that we didn’t concede more than three,” Fowler had said after their 3-0 defeat against Mumbai City FC. This was followed by the now infamous ‘some Indian players look like they haven’t been coached before’ jibe that got him into the firing line. However, he clarified later that those quotes had been taken out of context and that what he meant was the players hadn’t been coached in the style which he wanted to impose.

While most of his post-match reactions during the Red and Golds’ bleak start to the campaign provided fodder for the media to criticize him, he had maintained throughout that given time, his team would come good. The word ‘realist’ had been bandied around a lot by him and maybe that aspect of his character and his typically British bluntness is what came across as arrogance. Nonetheless, his team seems to have turned a corner now, just as he had promised they will.

“All teams have remained in isolation, but we probably have struggled more than other teams due to the fact that we were late in getting together as a team. But we are not looking for excuses. It is about what we do as a team. We are a work in progress and we are getting there,” he had said a few weeks back. And it does seem to be coming together now and one has to give him and his coaching staff all the credit for their work behind the scenes.

The signings of Bright Enobakhare, Raju Gaikwad and Ankit Mukherjee seem to have rejuvenated the side. Their midfield is also functioning well under the leadership of Matti Steinmann while Debjit Majumder has improved tremendously in goal. Facing Kerala Blasters at Tilak Maidan tonight, it will be another opportunity for the debutants to close the gap between them and the top 4 and for a change, they will be starting as favourites this time around.

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