Right off the bat, let’s put things into perspective. SC East Bengal’s maiden Indian Super League (ISL) victory over Odisha FC on Sunday was a landmark moment for the club and could give them the confidence to push on henceforth. However, what fans of the legacy club need to understand is that the project that Robbie Fowler and company have got on their hands involves a lot of various components that need to be worked out, and worked out quickly.
Which brings us to the winter transfer window. Having let go of 9 domestic players, the Red and Golds have been the most active amongst all the ISL clubs in the January window so far in terms of incomings as well. They have already brought in as many as four new players. While the focus has mostly been on young Bright Enobakhare, they have also roped in defenders Raju Gaikwad and Ankit Mukherjee as well as goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.
All four signings are meant to address deficiencies in those particular positions. Both Gaikwad and Enobakhare featured against Odisha and gave an extremely good account of themselves. Gaikwad instantly brought back a sense of calm into the back-line which had been lacking till now with Surchandra Singh employed as a makeshift option in that position. Similarly, Enobakhare showed us a glimpse of his talent in the 17 minutes that he was on the pitch, popping up all over the attacking third and contributing to the build-up play with ease.
However, this is where fans need to exercise caution. Enobakhare, for one, can turn out to be an extremely potent option going forward. Conversely, he might also need some time to get used to his surroundings and new teammates and with such a congested fixture list, that might mean a few more matches passing him by before he gets up to speed. Also, we have to remember that he is just 22. And although he is being presented as a former English Championship player with Wolverhampton Wanderers, that was three seasons back.
Since then, he has turned out for four different clubs in three different countries and barring his stint with Coventry City, he hasn’t featured more than 6 times anywhere. Moreover, since the start of the 2019-20 season, he has played just 79 minutes of league football including the cameo against Odisha.
Furthermore, Subhasish and Ankit too will get minutes under their belts as the season progresses. Debjit Majumder has looked shaky in goal right from the first match of the ISL 2020-21 season and it is a matter of time before Fowler tries out his other senior pro. For Ankit, it is a matter of being ready whenever an opportunity presents itself in the form of an injury to the others or just a change in personnel.
If rumours are to be believed, East Bengal are looking to bring in a few others as well in this window and it remains to be seen if they can have a positive impact. For now, with a victory under their belt and after displaying an attractive brand of football in the last couple of games, one would expect the side to cash in on this momentum and grind out results. For the emotional fans of this great club though, ‘caution’ has to be the buzzword.