'The hardest part for United will come now'- Eelco Schattorie

The former gaffer of the Purple Brigade remarked that Rafique and Souvik were among the best U-23 performers in Indian football last year.

Eelco Schattorie, who had parted ways with United Sports Club after the Federation Cup claimed that the Kolkata club avoiding the drop was an achievement.

"I am very happy that my players and club officials survived this difficult season. Since I had left, I kept contact with Nabab (Bhattacharya) and a lot of players to encourage them to keep fighting. It would be a bad ending if a family club with a fantastic leader as Nabab would be relegated. They did everything they could so am happy they survived for now.

“The hardest part will come now. Leading a football club is all about creating stability for the long run. Everyone wants to become champion but only one can be. So the rest have to try to be stable and wait for the next or the next to next season," he told Goal.

The UEFA Pro license holder praised Bengaluru FC for their professional approach, but added that the new champions may have profited from being handed five straight home matches at the start of the season.

"Bengaluru did a fantastic job. In my view they got six home games (factually 5) at the start and could not get relegated. This I don’t like as that's not a real competitive approach to football.  But still (I have) deep respect (for them) that they stayed all season on top.

“The main reason is to create a stable staff with a good venue to work at and a balanced team – which are the main ingredients. Normally a team that starts and invests a lot of money never succeeds in the first year to be a champion. It says everything about the Indian league and the distance between the clubs. All clubs can take an example of Bengaluru on how money should be invested and take it to a higher professional level," the Dutch coach opined.

Schattorie highlighted that some of the players under his tutelage for the last two seasons performed exceptionally well.

"Mohammed Rafique is in my eyes one of the best talents in India. Only his office job and sickness made him play less during the time I was there this season. He can score goals, has tremendous endurance and has a good technical skill set. What he needs to get more is mental strength and be stronger or meaner; will to win as I always call it."

"Souvik (Chakraborty) had a fantastic spirit and I wish I could work on him more. He lacked the tactical play and he developed well during my stay. He's a rough diamond that needs to be polished more. Same as Baju (Surajit Bose) from United who was also a player with fantastic potential (creativity) but was not physically fit enough. He had not played the year before for long time," he stated.

The 42-year old mentioned that the standard of I-League had improved given the level of competitiveness at both ends of the table.

"The I-League was absolutely more competitive than last year. Reason one is that each team had more foreigners while reason two is that many coaches having a Pro course was there. They (Coaches) got better understanding on how to prepare teams on different levels," he told.

When asked about the coaches he found most difficult to fight tactically, he mentioned the names of Khalid Jamil and Karim Bencherifa.

"That's a tricky question.  I did not win once (against Mumbai FC) and Mohun Bagan also I did not win. But in both games, every time there where some important players missing and somehow the opponent had a very defensive strategy.

“To break that you need an extra dimension of creativity and we didn’t have that this year. That does not mean that those teams do not deserve credit. But for me it has a simple and deeper explanation on why we couldn’t beat .them or only draw," he signed off.