How many coaches have survived for a couple of seasons at Kolkata clubs? Amongst the handful, Trevor James Morgan is the illustrious one given the success and more importantly, a sense of calm – something which has never been associated with a club from the east.
Nominated for the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) in the coach of the year category as part of their annual Indian Football Awards, the 56-year old is set to end his sojourn in Indian football.
In an exclusive interview with Goal, the Englishman states that he has no regrets and has been successful in his efforts to make East Bengal one of the top three clubs in the country.
Goal: How happy are you at being nominated for the Coach of the Year award again? Do you think you can win it for a second time on the trot? Your thoughts on your fellow nominees?
Trevor Morgan: It is always very pleasing to be nominated as it comes from the players of the teams we compete against, it is the third year on the trot for me and there are some very deserving nominees who have had great seasons but at different levels, Arthur (Papas) and Santosh (Kashyap) did brilliantly with inexperienced players and low budgets, Derrick (Pereira) made Pune FC a formidable outfit and Subash (Bhowmick) won the league. I am happy to be nominated and whoever wins it will be fully deserving of it
How content are you with East Bengal's just concluded I-League campaign? Is it disappointing, that you missed out on the title again?
It's disappointing but not something that worries me. Our team has become very consistent with almost identical win loss and draws over the past three years. When you play as many games as we do, it is impossible for everyone to be at the top of their game regularly. Picking up points when the team is maybe not playing well is something we were not able to do in the run in and the three drawn games versus Air India, Prayag United and Sporting Clube de Goa proved costly as Churchill Brothers also dropped points but we were unable to narrow the gap.
Now that the season is over, when you look back, what is it that you would have liked to do differently, which you think might have had a positive impact on the club's fortunes?
I think we have to prioritise and look at how many competitions we play in but that will always difficult at East Bengal as the History of the club and our fan base demand that we are competitive and play to win in every game. It will be an ongoing problem as I can see no way out of it.
The club has looked formidable in their AFC Cup outings. How far do you think this team can go in the continental tournament?
We have had a far better balance to the team in the AFC Cup as we are able to field an extra foreigner. I don't think Andrew (Barisic) has had the credit he deserves as everyone looks at who scores the goals but his unselfish play has enabled Chidi Edeh and Penn Orji to operate very effectively. If we are drawn against a team from this region I would say we have a great chance to make the semi finals but the teams from the Middle East are a different proposition and very difficult opponents. But who knows in football what will happen.
Do you think these AFC Cup games have maybe affected the team's performance in the I-League? As they have looked lethal in the AFC Cup, while their form in the business end of the season in the league was not as good?
No not at all, as I have said above having four foreigners in the AFC has been great but we slipped up in games that I feel were there for the taking towards the end. There is nothing you can do however when human error comes in to it and we did suffer from that this season.
How satisfied are you at the end of your stay with East Bengal? Any memories in particular that you really look back at, with pride? Any regrets?
I am very happy with the progress the team has made during the past three seasons, we have become one the top teams in India and have tried to do it the right way. The players have been tremendous from the first training session onwards and many of them will I hope long and successful careers ahead of them, and no, no regrets, sometimes I ve got things wrong but I learned from it and moved on.
Will we see you again in a coaching capacity in India, in the future? Also will you be taking a complete sabbatical from football, next season?
Whether or not I come to India again will be the decision of someone else, it will be dependant if someone wants me or not, so I can't honestly answer that question. As regards my own future and what I do next season, it will be a lot clearer after our final game versus Mohun Bagan
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