By Sarthak Dubey
Trevor Morgan will be missed in Kolkata. The Englishman took over East Bengal's helm after the dismal 2009-10 I-League season where the Red and Gold's finished 9th out of 14 participating teams. For a team of East Bengal's vibrant history and rich footballing culture, a 9th place finish in the national league was pathetic. Trevor Morgan's admirable management style has transformed them into the top team in Kolkata and a formidable I-League force. In his first season, he won the Federation Cup, the Kolkata League and also finished runner-up of the I-League. This season alone, the manager has steered the Kolkatan club to another runner-up finish in the I-League and Federation Cup and also won the IFA Shield, Super Cup and Kolkata League.
One man instrumental to this success was the Australian - Turkish footballer Tolgay Özbey. The striker has easily been their best player for the last two seasons scoring 17 goals in the 2011-12 campaign and 18 in this season. Now that he has decided to do 'a Carlos Tevez' and move to arch-rival city neighbours Mohun Bagan, we can expect some fireworks in the Green and Maroon side of Kolkata.
The striker's turbulent effort on the field, ability to drift out on the flanks, speedy link-up play with fellow forwards and a stalwart attitude make him one of the most vicious strikers currently playing in the I-League. Keeping Tolgay's dressing room argument with Mehtab Hussain and training ground brawl with Gurwinder Singh aside, Trevor Morgan has extracted the best out of the Aussie.
Morgan had his issues with the club officials...
One of the reasons Morgan brought about this fluctuation in fortune for East Bengal, is that he had managed to keep the core team together and physically geared up for every game. The pressure to win trophies is immense at the club and Trevor understood that instantly. The fans can turn against you just as quickly as the results do, and the Englishman witnessed that this season when the supporters held his players hostage!
The likes of Nirmal Chettri and Uga Okpara in defense, Mehtab Hossain and Sanju Pradhan in midfield and Penn Orji and Tolgay Özbey up front constitute the spine of this side and Morgan has almost always got the team selection and tactics spot on.
While the relationship between money and Mohun Bagan has been on the rise, there has been an equivalantly distraught relationship between the playing staff and club officials at East Bengal. The ire over the departures of Tolgay Özbey and Morgan have both been directed towards the higher officials and the board at the club.
The feel-good-factor and positive aura around the training ground with two foreign professionals gone will be deeply affected. Other players might just smell a landslide in results next season and choose to drift away before the calamity begins. Unless the money got from Tolgay's sale to Mohun Bagan is put into the right hands, East Bengal might just see the weakening of 'their spine'.
East Bengal have established themselves as THE team in Kolkata under Trevor Morgan, and the Englishman has proved his critics wrong by finishing above Mohun Bagan, who are richer and stronger on paper, in every competition. It's a pity the duo had to leave under such circumstances. Can Mohun Bagan finish top of the I-League, at least now, with such a prolific squad of players? East Bengal have been left shell shocked after the recent events, obviously.
We are in for some exciting football next season and as the popular saying goes - "The circus has begun in Kolkata"...
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