Newly-appointed East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler on Saturday said his team will play an exciting brand of football, relying on ball possession and short intricate passes, during the Indian Super League which begins on November 20. The Kolkata giants, who will compete in the ISL from this season, appointed Fowler for a two-year tenure earlier this month. The ISL will be played in three venues in Goa in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
"We will play the right way. For me, the right way is playing with the ball at your feet, short sharp intricate passes, get the players moving and helping each other and not just pass it long ball for the sake of it," Fowler said in an Instagram live session. "We won't be playing long balls, we want to hold on to possession. Possession on the right side of pitch, not just knocking it around in the back. We want to play in the opposite half, exciting football and win games. The best way is putting opposition in the backfoot," he added.
The upcoming season of the ISL, like several other sports events, will take place behind closed doors in empty stadiums. "We can't do anything but there will be time in the near future when we will be playing with lost of passionate fans. I would like nothing more than to travel to Kolkata and play with a successful team next year," said the Liverpool legend. "That day will come but right now we need to do what we need to do. It’s not easy but it’s something we have to adapt and accept."
With a late inclusion to ISL, East Bengal appointed the 45-year-old with less than two months left for the scheduled start of the tournament and Fowler feels the team will have to play catch up. "It's a new challenge for us, we will go into this season and we will be competitive. What we have to keep in mind is that we have been many many weeks behind the other teams. We were late getting together because of the new club. We will catch them up pretty soon. It might be a few weeks before you see the best East Bengal," he added.
Fowler has signed six foreign players with another addition expected soon. "The players we have brought in are exceptional. We have got plans to bring one more player. It is about getting the spine of the team right. Scott Neville and Danny Fox are excellent players. Anthony Pilkington and Jacob Maghoma in midfield are strong and competitive players, technically very good," he said.
We wanted to build a competitive team and players who are comfortable getting the ball when there are players around. We never just signed because of the good names, all these players are good players. Matt Steinman is an excellent player, for me, he was one of the standout players in the A-League. He can control a lot of areas on the pitch, particularly that midfield. He is a player, in all honesty, I would have loved to take to my last club," he added.
Fowler also brings with him a seven-member strong backroom staff, comprising assistant coach Anthony Grant, set-piece coach Terence McPhillips, goalkeeping coach Robert Mimms, Indian assistant coach Renedy Singh, sports scientist Jack Inman, physiotherapist Michael Harding and analyst Joseph Walmsley. "My job is to bring in a good staff which can help the players. The set piece coach will come and analyse what the opposition can and can't do and we will look for opportunities to exploit them. It's a good opportunity to exploit," he said.