East Bengal's title hopes seem to have faded away following the 2-1 defeat against arch rivals Mohun Bagan at the Kanchenjuga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday. Two first half strikes from Sony Norde (35') and Azharuddin Mallick (43') were enough for the Mariners and Rowllin Borges' late consolation goal (90+3') went in vain as Mohun Bagan ended their 743 day winless streak in I-League's Kolkata Derby.
Speaking of the result, East Bengal head coach Trevor Morgan remarked that Mohun Bagan were worthy of the three points. ''Mohun Bagan were the good side and they deserved to win tonight. I have got no complaints about that,'' he commented.
Assessing the 2-1 score-line, the England-born manager believed it was nearly impossible to bounce back from the two goal deficit especially after Willis Plaza's booking. The Trinidadian international was given his marching orders for hitting Mohun Bagan defender Anas Edathodika needlessly. Further, the gaffer mentioned if the Reds and Golds had registered their goal a bit earlier, maybe the full-time score would have been different.
''I thought the contest was even in the first half but Sony (Norde)’s free-kick was superb, and the other man put a cross and got it to the top corner. So two-nil down, Willy (Willis Plaza) starts something absolutely ridiculous and gets sent off. Now, we are ten men down against a team that’s two-nil up, that’s very difficult. Had we got the goal maybe five minutes earlier, it would have been a better ending. It wasn’t meant to be,'' commented the 60-year-old.
The defeat against the Maroon and Green brigade meant that East Bengal have now registered three losses in a row - against Churchill Brothers, Chennai City and Mohun Bagan. This puts them third on the table with 27 points in their kitty from 15 fixtures. When asked if this could affect Morgan's managerial future at the club, the East Bengal boss mentioned that he is not to be held accountable for the squad as he didn't choose the players.
''Whatever happens, it happens. If the club is not happy with what I am doing, (they can) get rid of me. It’s pretty simple, that’s the same rule all over the world. I’ll be responsible for picking the team but I’m not responsible for the squad. Let me make that clear - It’s right that I picked the team but I didn’t pick the squad. That was taken out of my hands. You need to know people’s character, what they can do in severe situations, how they can react. But when you are just given the set of tools and said to work with them, it’s very difficult,'' revealed the former AFC Bournemouth player.
The third-placed Kolkata side will face DSK Shivajians in the next week. On being quizzed about the Loni-based side, Morgan hinted at a possible exit from the club.
''I’ve got no idea about the next game. Let us reach back to Kolkata, you could be asking the question to someone else, next week,'' the coach stated.
With three points below table leaders Aizawl, Morgan believes it'll be tough for his side to contest for the title. The Englishman reckons the Mariners to win the league as he applauded Sanjoy Sen's lads.
''I think it would be very difficult now to go for the title. I can’t see Mohun Bagan slipping now, they are a good side and have players who can turn over the game. They are well organized and they look to be the favourites in the league,'' he voiced.
The ex-Kerala Blasters assistant coach believes his side failed to show their intent of winning and therefore failed to grab full points in Siliguri.
''I can’t lose hope. The dressing room is quiet, to say the least. We have had good opportunities before the game, we knew we had a good chance to finish tonight’s game on top of the league. But, we didn’t do it and I didn’t see enough desire,'' he disclosed.
Lastly, talking about the below par results lately, Morgan shared his disappointment.
''Last week has been one of the worst weeks I have ever had in football. I can’t say too much but we had a really crack preparation for the game, last week. Different things came up during the week but I can’t say because you’d say those are excuses. At the end of the day, the best team won and our preparation wasn’t fantastic,'' Morgan signed off alluding to the difficulties in practicing at the Maidan in Kolkata, building up the clash.