Management-coach row hits Kolkata football clubs

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting – the top three club teams in Kolkata – have all lost their coaches in the last two weeks.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:48 IST
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Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting – the top three club teams in Kolkata – have all lost their coaches in the last two weeks. East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick was forced to exit after he was caught taking a bribe. Apparently, he resigned. Fact is his club used the opportunity to drop him like a hot potato. The two other football biggies – Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting – saw their coaches walk out in a huff, one in November, another last week. Ego hassles All three exits confirm one of Maidan's worst kept secrets: that the clubs and their coaches are locked in a do or die battle over who is the boss. In Kolkata Maidan, all the coaches have big mouths. But on the field, they are zero," said Sultan Ahmed, General Secretary, Mohammedan Sporting. "When they think, the team is OK, the performance is fine, they try to put their own players, whom they recruit. Interference is too much, one can not tolerate. That's why I left," said Biswajit Bhattacharya, sacked Mohammedan Sporting coach. Given these sentiments, it is perhaps no surprise that Kolkata's football is in a mess. This year, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting lost in the first round of the Federation Cup, East Bengal in the second. No doubt that the coach versus club tussle has taken its toll on football. "The coach has to be an employee and has to listen to the management. He has to leave his ego at home," said Kalyan Majumdar, General Secretary, East Bengal. "The coach can be changed several times, but officials can not be changed. In Kolkata there are too many cooks spoiling the broth. Go to Goa, there is no problem, the same Derek Pereira, same Mauricio Alphanso," said Subrato Bhattacharya, former coach, Mohun Bagan. Public sentiment The conflict is sharper in Kolkata clubs than in clubs like Salgaocar and Dempo because the clubs here are answerable to the public, while the others only to corporations that fund them. None of the these clubs have the fanatical fan support as Mohun Bagan or East Bengal. "Only three clubs – Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting are supporter-based clubs. We are accountable not only to members, but also to supporters. The other clubs are office clubs. Their accountability is only to the office," said Anjan Mitra, General Secretary, Mohun Bagan. In Kolkata's maidan, one of the solutions can be a foreign coach, someone the club management can respect and vice-versa. But even this solution is being hotly debated. "We will have a new coach, a foreign coach this year. And if that gives us success, we will continue," said Kalyan Majumdar, General Secretary, East Bengal. "No, no, bringing foreign coaches will be a problem. Look at Constantine and Milovan. They had come here, but they were very annoyed and left," said Subrato Bhattacharya, former Mohun Bagan coach. Bleak future No guarantees that even foreign coaches will not meet the same fate. Even PK Banerjee was sacked as coach from East Bengal in 1983. The World Cup is just six months away and India doesn't even have its foot in at the door. Far from thinking big, Kolkata's clubs are engrossed in petty battles over who is the boss – the management or the coach! While this battle of egos continues, Kolkata's football suffers. And fantasies of Indian football making it big in the world arena seem destined to remain just that – fantasies.