Mohun Bagan’s Steve Darby – A Lesson Learnt From Aristotle’s “The Poetics” draws parallels between Aristotle's tragic hero and the case of Steve Darby at Mohun Bagan...

Mohun Bagan accepted the resignation of Steve Darby just a couple of months after his much celebrated appointment as the one who shall be their answer to a certain Trevor Morgan of East Bengal. While his departure from the Kolkata club has seen fans and critics lambast the club on various public forums highlighting consistency being the key to success, his situation pretty much fits in the concept of a tragic hero.

Tragic Greek dramas featured tragic heroes as good men who suffered incredible losses as a result of an inescapable fate. Hang on, we will explain!

According to Aristotle’s “The Poetics”, a tragic hero must have six key qualities - Hamartia, Hubris, Anagnorisis, Peripeteia, Nemesis, and Catharsis. In the following paragraphs, we shall draw similarities as to how Darby meets each of the above mentioned criterion.

H   A   M   A
R   T   I   A

This is an error or miscalculation which may arise from three ways:  a) ignorance of some fact, b) careless view, or c) it may be an error voluntary, but not deliberate.

In Darby’s case, it was his miscalculation that the players would take care of their fitness given that they are professional and are paid wages. The Federation Cup performance highlighted that the Green and Maroons were far from fit with some of the players being too slow. Darby refused to take the onus on himself to ensure that the players were in top shape and instead put the blame of the players. While this will definitely be the case had this been Europe or some other footballing nation, in India it’s the coach who has to ensure that his players are in the best shape in order to safeguard his own job.

H   U   B
R   I   S

The tragic flaw is generally often a result of Hubris, or excessive pride. Doom is often brought about when there is a belief that one is in control of the situation.

When Darby took over, he mentioned that he wasn’t “new to Indian football” and that’s where the English coach went wrong. As they say: “The moment you say ‘I know’, in reality you ‘don’t know’ actually.”

He refused to accept that he was at a club where results matter and there is too much ‘player power’ in the dressing room. He never ensured that the players stick to a fitness regime and allowed too much free hand.

A   N   A   G   N
O   R   I   S   I   S

Anagnorisis is a recognition or discovery made by the tragic hero. In other words, the tragic hero will learn a lesson, usually as a result of his downfall.

After suffering his second defeat in the Federation Cup, Darby acknowledged that he had slow players in his squad. “Our players are not quick and you can't get quick players overnight. What can you do if someone goes past you with sheer pace, it's like the situation when Gareth Bale going past Martin Skrtel,” he discovered.

It was a moment of clairvoyant insight wherein Darby comprehended the web in which he is entangled.

P   E   R   I   P
E   T   E   I   A

This is a reversal of fortune, the downfall of the tragic hero. This is when an incident is moving in a particular direction but suddenly, there is a drastic change in the end.

All throughout Darby enjoyed decent support of the Bagan management. But following the Federation Cup, the cracks started to appear so much so that many wanted his ouster. The speculation grew and the transgression from being safely secure to being vulnerable didn’t take long.

The club officials formed a three member technical committee who shall overview Darby’s work and advice the management thereafter. This highlighted the lack of trust the officials had in the manager’s work and decisions.

N  E  M  E
S  I  S

It is an act of retribution or the final word of fate that cannot be escaped. It is the cosmic payback for acts of Hubris.

The speculation over his future grew and Darby, in many ways, made it easy for Bagan management by resigning from his position citing his displeasure over the forming of the three member technical committee.

It was the failure to understand the work culture of Indian clubs and not taking the responsibility for the fitness of the players which eventually led to his downfall. Had he not resigned, it was just a matter of time before he would have been sacked any ways.

C  A  T  H
A  R  S  I  S

This is a feeling of overwhelming pity and/or fear that the audience or reader is left with after witnessing the downfall of a tragic hero.

Many would feel for Darby as he wasn’t given enough time to prove himself. He didn’t have the national team players at his disposal for long before the Federation Cup in order for them to gel.

The very fact that the club accepted his resignation without even trying to convince him to stay highlighted that he was very much an unwanted commodity which drew enough sympathy from the fans and media alike.

Yes, Mohun Bagan are at fault for not having given him enough time but Darby too never made an effort to understand that he was “new to Indian football” and by the time he did, it was time to say sayonara.


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