SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler feels that fans will be able to see the best version of his side very soon. With one point from four games, it has been a frustrating start for the Kolkata giants in what is their debut Indian Super League (ISL) campaign. However, the former England striker believes that their hard-fought draw against Jamshedpur FC last week might just help them finally turn a corner.
“The fight that the boys showed in the last game is symbolic of what we’ve known all along. I think we are a team with a great work ethic and the togetherness we have is brilliant. The players are getting fitter and we will start seeing a better SC East Bengal team now, we genuinely believe that,” said the Liverpool legend when asked about the team’s reaction after going a man down in the first half and still securing a point against the Men of Steel.
There has been a lot of talk around the lack of attacking impetus in the side. Anthony Pilkington, who has taken over the captain’s armband since Daniel Fox’s injury, is yet to make a mark while Jacques Maghoma has blown hot and cold. Balwant Singh and the newly introduced Jeje Lalpekhlua have also been lacklustre to say the least. Is it a case then of shoring up at the back being the main priority?
“We go into every game to win but in previous matches the situation has been such that we have had to be slightly defensive and not go gung-ho in terms of our attack. Things happen on the football pitch and you have to adapt accordingly. We’re not set up ultra-defensively. We’ve just had to stick together in difficult situations and ensure that we don’t get beaten,” responded Fowler.
While Hyderabad FC may not be the most prolific team in the league, they have been very efficient so far in grinding out results against more fancied opponents. Pressure will be on Fowler’s men to give a good account of themselves against a side that could only field two foreigners in the last match against ATK Mohun Bagan due to injury and still came away with a point. “We know we have a tough game. Hyderabad have had a few gritty performances. But this is a new game for us as it is for them. We have seen in the ISL so far that teams can beat each other on their day so it is going to be an interesting match,” expressed Fowler.
It has been apparent that SC East Bengal are behind the others in terms of fitness. They have also had a few refereeing decisions go against them and have conceded goals immediately after a good spell of possession of their own. All of this can take a toll on the mental health and spirit of the players. Fowler acknowledges that but feels he has a side with mentally strong and committed individuals.
“Every match is difficult. The motivation and hunger is all there. I wouldn’t be doing my job as coach if I didn’t provide all the necessary information to the players before they went out. There have been times when we have played well, and other times when we could have done better. But that is the same for every team. All I can say is we have to keep going with a positive frame of mind and the results will follow,” he signed off.