Trevor Morgan – East Bengal needs stability on and off the field to achieve success
Trevor Morgan felt that too much interference in team building was the reason why East Bengal failed during his second stint as manager…
When Trevor James Morgan first arrived at East Bengal in 2010, the club’s fortunes was in tatters as they just about saved themselves from being relegated to the second division.
The team saw a massive overhaul in their squad with fresh faces coming in along with an unknown British manager at the helm.
Morgan’s first assignment as the Rd and Golds manager was the Federation Cup in Cuttack. Interestingly, they clinched the title in a dramatic fashion by defeating arch-rivals Mohun Bagan and thus, also defending their title.
The former Hull City youth coach affirmed that winning the Federation Cup helped endear him to the East Bengal fans.
“I was there for three seasons. When I moved there I came to know about the rivalry with Mohun Bagan. In my first year at the beginning of the season, we won the Federation Cup beating Mohun Bagan in the final. That probably got me to a good start with the supporters. I was relatively unknown to them so winning that title got me off to a good start,” reminisced Morgan to Goal.
One of the criticisms of Morgan’s East Bengal was that they failed to win the I-League title. However, Morgan explained that although they couldn’t bag the coveted I-League title, still they were amongst the top teams of that era in Indian football.
“I think during the first tenure, we were one of the most consistent sides in India in terms of results. Although we did not manage to win the I-League, I think in three years we improved with every season. We were runners-up twice, finished third once,” said Morgan.
East Bengal won two Federation Cup titles under Morgan and more importantly, went on a memorable run in the AFC Cup where they were finally ousted in the semi-final. In the very same campaign, they didn’t lose a single group game in the AFC Cup – which is a record amongst the Indian clubs.
“I took the team to the AFC Cup three years in a row. We managed to reach the quarterfinal of the tournament and then I left. I hope the supporters cherished as much as myself and the players. The Indian players we had were really good human beings and good players. The majority of the foreigners we recruited were very good too.”
East Bengal’s performance graph took a major dip after the English coach had parted ways with the club in 2013. In fact, the Kolkata club is yet to taste success in a national competition since Morgan’s exit.
The former Kerala Blasters coach suggested that lack of stability in management and in the squad has been the major reason why the club has failed over the years.
“During my time we were a very well settled team. Before I came, Armando Colaco had a very well settled team (Dempo SC) and they were very successful. I think that is the way it should be. You can change two or three players but you cannot change the core group of players. I don’t know how many players they have signed this season but whenever I check the news in India, I find a new player has joined the club. Sometimes it takes time for those players to blend.”
He reiterated the fact that too many unnecessary changes in the squad haven’t helped the club whatsoever.
“It is difficult to say what success is. Obviously, during my time we were successful, we won nine trophies during my four years at the club. We had a very good group of players. But all of a sudden if you change the team, it does not work. After my stint how many people have been in charge of the team? You keep talking of changing, you got to have stability. You need to have stability at the top and then stability in the team as well explained Morgan.
Morgan returned to East Bengal for one more season in 2016. The team had started the 2016-17 I-League season on a high but they slipped in the second phase of the league missed out on the title yet again. He reasoned that one of the primary reasons why the club couldn’t succeed was due to lack of trust and support from the management at all times.
“In the first seven games, we were okay but then we suddenly had a blip. Unfortunately in Kolkata when you lose two or three games people make decisions that can have an effect on how you are.
“You have to have the backing from everybody at the club. Given the politics in Kolkata especially in East Bengal, while we were winning everything was fine but once you lose, people come out and start saying ‘I told you so’?
“The backing that we had when we were winning it wasn’t the same when we started losing. That is something that must change. The manager who is getting employed, he must be given everything he requires and he must be backed all the times. I am afraid to say that wasn’t the case during my last stint.”
One of the underlying issues at East Bengal is about their recruitment process for the squad. On most occasions, it is the club officials who sign players even before the coach has been appointed. In the 2016-17 season, Morgan deployed a 4-4-2 diamond but incidentally, the club officials chose to sign as many as five wingers, much to the dismay of the coach.
“My point to the club was in the system we were playing at that time, that system didn’t involve many natural wide players and yet I think the club signed five wide players. So you can’t do anything about that.
“Obviously I got some of the players I wanted but then the club also got some of the players they wanted. Not that they weren’t good players but they just didn’t fit into the shape of the team I wanted to play. They didn’t discuss before signing and I didn’t say anything because that is what the way it was in India,” signed off Morgan as he highlighted the issues plaguing East Bengal.