"(If there is) one coach on the ground, then there is no problem. But if there are two coaches and they discuss and fight (with) each other, then it (becomes a) problem for the player," said Katsumi Yusa to the media as he was leaving the East Bengal club grounds after practice on Friday. The Japanese has hit the nail on the head while describing the situation in East Bengal as hostility between Khalid Jamil and Subhash Bhowmick continues to grow with each passing day.
After a disappointing end to their I-League campaign, the Red and Gold management decided to appoint Bhowmick as the technical director who would work in tandem alongside head coach Jamil for the Super Cup. But upon closely observing the chain of incidents that have unfolded in the past three days, one can conclude that the appointment of Bhowmick, which was done keeping in mind the best interests of the club, is turning out to be a bane for the players as well as the management.
In spite of being present at the club, Jamil chose not take to the field for the past two days, whereas Bhowmick was seen calling the shots in the team's practice. Although on Friday, Jamil did make his way onto the pitch but he chose to take a seat on the sidelines alongside senior club official Debabrata Sarkar instead of joining Bhowmick in practice.
This is bound to affect the morale and unity of the team. After finishing fourth in the league table behind arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, East Bengal's can only hope of redemption if they lift silverware on April 20 by winning the Super Cup. But, if the coaches themselves are clashing with each other, then the team is bound to fall in disarray.
When Jamil remained absent from practice for two consecutive days, Bhowmick blasted him in front of the media on Thursday and said," In his absence, I was the coach today. I was coaching the team today. And once a person occupies a position, nobody is ready to give up the chair."
Give the stature of Bhowmick in Kolkata Maidan and his contribution to East Bengal, he commands respect. His credentials as a coach remain unquestionable as the veteran tactician has won three national league titles and also has the credit of guiding East Bengal to the much famed ASEAN Club Cup in 2003. But one must keep in mind that Jamil still holds the position of head coach in the club and being a technical director, Bhowmick can only support, advise and provide technical assistance to the head coach as and when required.
It must be noted that Bhowmick has always held the driving wheel and is not really accustomed to playing the supporting role. Even during his I-League winning stint with Churchill Brothers as technical director, Bhowmick was the de facto manager of the club and Mariano Dias, in spite of being the coach, remained second in command. But the current situation in East Bengal is somewhat different where both Jamil and Bhowmick are expected to jointly work towards the betterment of the club.
"It has taken a long time to reach where I am today. Sometimes you guys forget that I keep three national league titles in my left pocket and two international trophies in my right. I don't think any living coach in India has that statistic," said Bhowmick on Thursday. Both his remarks clearly show that the former East Bengal striker wants uncontested authority in training and is not ready to share the reins of power with Jamil.
Although Khalid has been far from being disrespectful towards Bhowmick in front of the media, his actions have suggested otherwise. He has called Bhowmick as his elder brother and uncle and continues to stress that he is not fully fit to take charge of the team.
With just 10 ten days left before they face Mumbai City in Super Cup it is high time that the two trainers find an amicable solution between them. The club officials must play a vital role in the ice-breaking process. Debabrata Sarkar was seen talking to both of them individually on Friday, but for the sake of East Bengal and its greater good, all parties must put aside their differences and work harmoniously to chalk out a blueprint that can revive the Red and Golds.